Wednesday Morning

Image of man in wheelchair watering flowers

Beyond Race: Diversity and Inclusion as the Engine of Opportunity

Exploring diversity constructs and how such efforts incorporate inclusive mindsets for tomorrow’s evolving population. Understanding how measurements of compliance create access and opportunities for broad conversations and act as a change agent for the 21st Century. Discoveries of national findings and highlighting state’s organizational effectiveness to ensure the implementation of insightful educational exchanges. How do we strategically design a model Master Gardener Program through collaborative discussions, implementing change, yield parity in programs for all demographics and expand outreach for measurable results? Individuals will have the opportunity to engage such conversations with panelist to isolate the fundamentals challenges of program participant’s and what advisory approaches facilitate strategic planning.

Speaker Biography

image Laura ArtisLaura Artis is a native of Richmond, Virginia and a resident of the Stafford/Fredericksburg, Virginia area. She received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Accounting and Finance from Virginia State University and earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Management and Marketing from the University of Mary Washington. During her career, Laura served as the first African American Interstate Tax Auditor with the Virginia Department of Taxation. She has worked as an Internal Auditor and as a Civil Rights Investigator with Prince William County Government. Laura has served at the Federal government level as an Internal Revenue Agent with the United States Internal Revenue Service, to a Civil Rights Analyst with the United States Department of Justice, and is currently serving as an Equal Opportunity Specialist with the United States Department of Department Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) where she primarily conducts Civil Rights Compliance Reviews of NIFA’s Land Grant Partners. Laura is a local recording artist, and in her free time she can be found teaching and leading Praise and Worship Teams, singing at weddings and other Christian events, and playing with her miniature dachshund, Sasha.

Invited Panelist:


Related Information

Speed-Round Presenters

Take-home Insights from the 2016 EMG Motivations Study

We’ll use these short 20 minutes together to discuss some important take-home insights from the 2016 EMG Motivations study and how they set us on the future path for growing EMG volunteer programs.

Location, Location, Location: Volunteer Diversity Driving Program Development

Apologies for the audio issues midway through the presentation.

In 2001 the Rutgers Master Gardener program (96% white women above the age of 65) hardly reflected the population of Essex County (9% white, 52% female and 11.5% older than 65.) Volunteer demographics began to influence who was being served by Rutgers Cooperative Extension such that in 2003 very little programming was offered in the urban communities of the county. We worked to recruit volunteers from underserved communities, offered scholarships, provided transportation with modest success: non-white participation in the program increasing to 10% of active volunteers by 2005. Beginning in 2010 the location of the training program alternated between the suburbs and Newark, the largest city in the county, and student diversity increased to 20-25%. With a more diverse volunteer population we are offering a wider variety of programs, reaching a wider audience within the county, especially in poorer, underserved communities and increasing volunteer engagement, and an unexpected outcome – increased county funding.

  • Jan Zientek, Essex County Master Gardener Coordinator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Rutgers University
  • PowerPoint

image Jan Z speaking

Developing program priority topics and strategic plan to expand volunteer base

This recording is unavailable.

Through an audience analysis, the Minnesota program developed a new set of program content priorities that are relevant to issues of our time including pollinators, local food, clean water, climate, and more. Concurrently, a new volunteer-centric 5 year strategic plan was developed, vetted with stakeholders, and is ready for implementation. Together, these change initiatives are being used to communicate to and encourage a diverse audience of new volunteers to the program. They will also serve as tools to reach out to intended audiences in new and engaging ways.