Lawn Chair Learning

To promote our approved MGV projects, public educational programs were presented at various project sites. Program topics aligned with garden aspects used or demonstrated at the site. Participants were asked to bring their own lawn chairs for seating since all of the sessions took place outdoors. It was a 6 week series beginning in May and ending in June. (Plan to offer again in 2018.) It was a win-win situation… awareness of MGV projects increased and educational programming was provided. The usual tasks of running a program were eliminated… locating a meeting venue, gathering AV equipment, providing snacks, set-up & take down of chairs/tables… thus easing the workload of the horticulture educator.   Main risk encountered: weather.

  • Jeanne Hilinske-Christensen, Interim Horticulture Educator, Racine & Kenosha Counties

A Comparison of Student Learning Success for Turfgrass Management and Diagnostics: Traditional Program Delivery versus the Flipped Classroom Approach

Home lawn questions rank first or second for all questions addressed by Colorado Master Gardener volunteers. Compared to other gardening areas, confidence in ability to answer turf questions and diagnose lawn problems is a concern expressed by volunteers. In an effort to enhance volunteer confidence, lawn management and diagnostics was taught using two methods in 2018. One approach (5 counties) used the traditional 6-hour lecture during which basic information was presented, with time allowed for questions. The second approach (7 counties) used the flipped classroom method, where students were expected to master basic turf management information prior to class and class time was used to address real-life client scenarios that might be encountered during volunteer work with the public. Scenarios were discussed first in small groups and then with the entire class by the instructor. Pre- and post-testing of basic turf management knowledge showed a 40% increase in knowledge gained, independent of teaching method. We are in the process of assessing differences (for the two teaching methods) in confidence level for volunteer ability to diagnose turf problems.

  • Alison O’Connor, PhD, Horticulture Agent, Colorado State University Extension in Larimer County

Desk Clinic Training Classes as a Means to Boost Master Gardener Confidence

Volunteering at a clinic desk is one of the most important tasks Master Gardeners engage in due to their direct interaction with the public when responding to their gardening inquiries. Unfortunately, Master Gardeners often feel uncomfortable performing this task, especially as trainees. Due to concern amongst Master Gardeners over a lack of confidence in working at the Extension office desk clinic, a training program was implemented in 2016 in Yamhill County Oregon. The training program developed is comprised of five classes, each two hours in duration. The course material includes training about clinic procedures, office equipment and practice with plant problem scenarios. The classes are well attended by trainees, with voluntary attendance over 80% each year. A 2017 survey of trainee class attendees showed a 55% increase in confidence in working the desk and all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the desk classes were valuable training.

  • Heather Stoven, Extension Horticulturist, Yamhill County, Oregon State University

Purdue MG Program Annual Impact Survey

This poster will outline the efforts of the Purdue Master Gardener Program to measure medium and long-term impacts of the program on volunteers for internal and external reporting. Impacts were being measured and reported annually. However, important outcome indicators were not being measured statewide. So, in 2017 Purdue MG volunteers were surveyed to begin gathering these important outcome indicators as well as other important impact and demographic data about the program. This poster presentation will report the methods and results of the survey.

  • John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator
  • Poster PDF

Nebraska Extension Resistant/Invasive Issue Team #IRPESTS

In 2015 Nebraska Extension surveyed stakeholders, extension staff and faculty to gauge, what was considered, critical issues within the state; eighteen issues were defined. Multi-disciplinary teams were formed to create demand-driven, focused content on the specific issues prevalent in the state. One issue team Resistant/Invasive Pests has an interdisciplinary team.

In 2017 the team wanted to evaluate the impact it has had in two years of education and training on invasive/resistant pests. A general knowledge survey was developed. This survey includes; 1) general knowledge questions on invasive/resistant pests, 2) photo identification of invasive/resistant/beneficial species and 3) practices of integrated pest management. This survey was first initiated to the general public, during the Nebraska State Fair, to establish a baseline. Fair goers were asked to take the survey, with Extension Educators on hand to help answer missed questions and respond to questions about invasive/resistant pests.

  • Terri James, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension State Master Gardener Program Coordinator

Benefits and Barriers of Master Gardeners as Citizen Scientists

This study focused on the collaboration between SNAP-Ed and Iowa Master Gardeners, whose perceptions as citizen scientists were evaluated through their involvement in local food-donation projects. Online surveys were used to analyze Iowa Master Gardeners’ knowledge of research objectives and methods, including bias and its effects on research reliability, and collaboration success. Results from the surveys indicate that for continued success master gardeners need more training in team building, communication, data collection, and food safety. Several benefits and barriers were noted in training master gardener volunteers as citizen scientists. The primary benefits were: 1) the connections they made with food insecure individuals, 2) awareness of food security issues in their local communities, 3) recognition of the scientific process, and 4) the positive impacts of master gardeners on food insecurity. The primary barriers of involving master gardeners as citizen scientists were: 1) amount of time needed to train volunteers in data collection, 2) reluctance to thoroughly measure/record tedious data, and 3) finding times when multiple master gardeners were able to harvest.

  • Laura Irish, Graduate Student, Iowa State University

Master Gardener Job Fair Increases Volunteers’ Confidence, Service and Extension Awareness

New Master Gardeners (MGs) learn about volunteer programs during initial training. Some may not be acquainted with how to access and participate in programs and therefore may be reluctant to volunteer (Situation). Recognizing this need, our UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County Master Gardener Program planned and implemented a job fair during initial training. The objectives were to 1) provide information about the programs, 2) decrease barriers to volunteering, and 3) establish relationships. Veteran MGs created fun, interactive displays. Two MGs staffed each display to discuss programs and answer questions. New MGs visited each display and completed a BINGO game of veteran MG names (Methods). After the job fair, 21 volunteered in the online volunteer management system, 12 signed up for leadership roles and 18 signed up for more than one program (Results). Job fairs incorporated in training may help integrate new MGs more quickly, inspire leadership and increase retention rates (Conclusions).

  • Nicole Pinson, Urban Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator, University of Florida/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County

Improving engagement and quality of advice of the Maui Master Gardener Help Desk

A primary volunteer activity of the Maui Master Gardener program is to answer gardening questions and provide research-based information to home gardeners via our Help Desk and selected outreach events. In recent years MG volunteer sign-ups to the Help Desk have declined. Surveys and conversations with volunteers suggest that many MG volunteers feel trepidation and apprehension regarding the Help Desk and lack confidence to engage in diagnostic activities. To address these concerns, the MG training curriculum was reformatted to focus on diagnosis. One component of the curriculum is to have MG trainees practice answering FAQs throughout the training course, thereby familiarizing themselves with the Help Desk process and resources and improving quality of responses.

Cynthia Nazario-Leary, Master Gardener Coordinator, Maui County, University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension

Veggies for the Pantry

One in ten people in North Dakota depend upon food pantries to keep hunger at bay. Food pantries typically receive large donations of canned and boxed goods from donors while fresh fruits and vegetables are in short supply. North Dakota State University Extension Master Gardeners started a pilot initiative called Veggies for the Pantry in 2016 to increase access to fresh produce. The purpose of this initiative was to collect surplus home-grown fruits and vegetables from the community to support local food pantries. Master Gardeners staffed seven collection points strategically distributed across four cities on Monday evenings and then delivered the produce to the pantry the following morning. In 2017, this group staffed 11 produce collection points which were advertised through newspapers, television news, social media and by word of mouth. In total, Master Gardeners collected and delivered over 7956 lbs. of produce to two local food pantries.

  • Esther McGinnis, Extension Horticulturist/NDSU Extension Master Gardener Program Director, North Dakota State University

The impact teams have on volunteers.

In 2016, the Idaho Master Gardener Volunteer program in Canyon County created “teams” to assist in disseminating information and help volunteers develop skills and learn information in specific areas. JMG, IPM, Tree, Turf, and Social Media teams were created. Volunteers were given in depth training and mentoring related to the team they chose to join. At the end of the year, a life skills survey was created using an adaptation of the “4-H Life Skills Wheel”. Volunteers were asked to self-assess and measure life skills gained to determine the impact the training and membership on the team had on the individual team member. Each team was then asked to create an impact statement that reflects the life skills developed as a team.

  • Rich Guggenheim. Horticulture Extension Educator, Canyon County. University of Idaho.

Strengthening Community Gardens

Community gardens can be challenging to maintain over time as workload, cost, and other burdens overtake enthusiasm. Further, Master Gardeners recruited to help often end up serving as a workforce rather than leaders. To address this issue, UGA Extension Muscogee County created the Community Garden Initiative to promote existing community gardens while shepherding new gardens through their formation. The goal was to increase sustainability of community gardens and engage Master Gardeners in a new and gratifying way. Master Gardeners worked to increase awareness of community gardens by helping prepare a community gardens map with students from Columbus State University. They also led “30 Minute Masters,” teaching simple gardening techniques while attracting new participants to the gardens. Finally, community gardens were assigned a Master Gardener mentor to work one-on-one with garden leaders. This multi-faceted approach led to increased productivity and participation in community gardens and increased satisfaction among Master Gardeners.

  • Anne Randle, UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent

Becoming an Advanced Master Gardener

The poster will include the guidelines and purpose for becoming an Advanced Master Gardener (AMG) as well as the outcomes seen through its development. Advanced Master Gardener encourages retention in the local association as it allows the MG to refine their knowledge and become a respected local resource. This program rewards those who truly carry out the heart of Master Gardener and that is to assist their county agent through education to the community around them. Advanced Master Gardener certification not only rewards the AMG for their time and interest, but also the local and state MG program and the community in which they live.

  • Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent II, Home Grounds Gardens and Pest, Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Adopt a Family: Matching Small-Scale Growers with Families in Need

A pilot program based on the Christmas is for Kids model was launched in 2017 to help connect home gardeners with specific households being served by Maine Families, a home visiting program serving households with children from birth to age 3. Five families were asked to create a small wish list of produce items they’d like to recieve. Small-scale growers, who often feel the volume of produce they’re able to donate isn’t large enough to make a difference at a food pantry or shelter, were given the opportunity to adopt a family for the season. Maine Families staff distributed produce donations, Extension recipes and food handling tips.

Donors reported that they were more likely to drop off small volumes of produce that would normally go to waste because they knew the food would be used and appreciated. On average, the donors made 12 deliveries/family this season with donations totaling over 625lbs. Families reported more eating fruits and vegetables, trying new recipes, at least one family member trying a new fruit or vegetable, and improved food security.

  • Kate Garland, Horticulturist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

How Do You Do It? Adapting & Surviving in the Face of Budget Cuts

Federal, state and local budget cuts in 2011 forced the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program to look at a different financial and delivery structure for survival. Program structure has since transformed from a county-run program to a state-run standardized model. Potential training course sites undergo feasibility and sustainability assessments and, if approved, an application and budget are submitted and reviewed by the State Office. Centralized online enrollment ensures consistency with fee collection, scholarship process and data collection. All curriculum components are delivered exclusively by vetted educators/coordinators to maintain program quality. MSUE Events Management ensure adherence to financial protocol with over-site of training course budgets. Upon completion of training courses, funds are returned to local programs based upon enrollment numbers. After seven years, this model has resulted in greater consistency, financial sustainability and program growth.

  • Mary Wilson, State Coordinator, Michigan State University Extension