Mark Martin has truly made a lifelong commitment to horticulture, education and helping others. He knew horticulture would be his career path when he was only eight years old. He began by helping his mother plant bulbs in their extensive backyard garden and marveling at the abundance of flavors that came from his grandfather’s vast vegetables garden.
Mark became involved in 4H when he was quite young, and by the age of 16 was among the top 10 in the state for judging and winning contests. His first experience in national judging ranked Mark ninth in the country. He traveled across the country to judge with other national contenders for the National Junior Horticulture Association. Before he was 21, he was ranked number one. At the same time, he also was involved in FFA from District 214 representing the state of Illinois where he received a gold and silver medal for judging.
Mark has been an adjunct instructor at MCC in the Horticulture Department since 1996. His fellow co-workers consider him an “exceptional person who tirelessly gives his time and talent to all organizations with which he is affiliated,” and he has spent hundreds of hours consulting and advising on various ways to help the MCC Horticulture Department. Mark has tremendous passion for giving back to young minds and hearts—to plant seeds for the future.
While working toward his associate’s degree in Horticulture at MCC, Mark began his own interiorscape company in 1982. He started with plant rentals and wedding design, and within five years he built his first greenhouse to support the growth of Interior Tropical Gardens. The company is extremely successful and employs many people from the McHenry County area.
Mark is the founder of National Indoor Plant Week, which was established to increase public awareness of the importance of indoor plants. National Indoor Plant Week is one of two trademarks Mark registered through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The other is for Mark’s newest endeavor to increase the understanding and appreciation for live plants called the Happy Plant Family.
Mark is also committed to giving back to the community. He founded the 501(C3) charitable organization, It’s All About Kids, over 18 years ago to raise money for McHenry County families who have a child suffering with cancer. Every year this organization holds several fundraising activities to provide money to local families as well as pediatric cancer research at the Children’s Hospital in Chicago. It’s All About Kids has donated over $130,000 to Children’s Memorial and twenty-eight McHenry County families have received up to $8,000 each to help with their many expenses.