Wednesday Afternoon

Engaging Millennials: 🌿👫👍🏾

Engaging new audiences is a constant and evolving challenge. Audiences are more diverse in their interests, tastes, and preferences when it comes to how they invest their time and money, and this presents a unique challenge for inspiring new audiences to care about horticulture. Discover how Allen Centennial Garden is actively developing strategies for engaging with nontraditional gardening audiences, particularly young adults.

Speaker Biography

Ben Futa

Ben Futa, Executive Director, Allen Centennial Garden 

Ben is passionate for connecting people to plants, and one other, through public gardens. With a background in landscape architecture and sustainability studies from Purdue University and Indiana University South Bend, Ben directs the operations of the Garden and its programs.



Elin Meliska, Director of Programs and Community Engagement, Allen Centennial Garden

Elin Meliska saw the potential to harness passion in her students for learning about the natural world through field trips and hands-on experiences while teaching in Chicago Public Schools. This inspired Elin to complete her Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. Elin has extensive experience creating and facilitating programming at the Smithsonian, the National Geographic Museum, the International Spy Museum, and most recently the Madison Children’s Museum. A native Chicagoan, Elin is excited to return to the Midwest and build the education and outreach program at the Allen Centennial Garden.


Related Information

Speed-Round Presenters

Three Birds, One Stone

Kill three birds with one stone! By opening a portion of your Extension Master Gardener classes to the public during non-traditional hours, you can 1) increase access to audiences who may not be available during office hours, 2) allow individuals to get a feel for the program before applying, and 3) get to know individuals before they submit applications for your EMG Program. This poster/presentation will share how dividing your training course into two series, a public series and an applicant’s only series, will help diversify your EMG Program while also marketing Extension classes to a wider audience and helping you better manage your work load.

Inclusive Ideas

  • Amy Freidig, University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener Program Coordinator

Inclusive Master Gardener Program

A conversation about increasing the reach of the EMG program to increase inclusivity. Based on research, the average Iowa Master Gardener is graduate-degree, middle-income, retired, white female. How can we change the MG training and our definition of volunteerism to expand the program to include people of color? How can we change the program to increase access to the program for people experiencing low-income?

  • Susan DeBlieck, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener, Assistant Coordinator
  • Dalicia Davis, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Program/Project Specialist
  • PowerPoint