Master Gardeners Make a Difference
It can be challenging for a serious gardener to pass a shredding machine and not stop and use it to transform ‘paperwork’ into worm compost bedding. Sorry, your Master Gardener papers are no longer potential bedding material. Since the Statewide Office staff has embraced making the volunteer time submission and the annual recertification process as paper free as possible you’ll need to locate another source of worm bedding. Entering your volunteer experiences, completing the three recertification forms and submitting the insurance payment is now fast, easy and paperless.
Gardening tasks, family obligations and professional obligations fill our June days, leaving just a few precious moments for completing the Master Gardener recertification process. Why bother taking the time to recertify? During the past year you probably experienced the joy of learning about a new plant, memorized another botanical name, or identified an invasive pest. You most likely attended a monthly meeting or an advanced training developed specifically for Master Gardeners, plus your network of friends expanded to include new gardening buddies. Recertify by June 30 to assure you do not miss any of the many learning opportunities waiting for you in the 2012-13 program year.
During the 2012-13 program year the Statewide office will provide you the opportunity to attend advanced horticulture and IPM trainings and assist with planning the 2014 Conference. Your local program most likely has a wealth of rewarding opportunities available for you to educate and inspire the home gardener. Unfortunately, there will probably be another new invasive pest waiting to make your acquaintance.
Take a few minutes to document in VMS the valuable hours you contribute in your community. Not only do your individual volunteer projects have a significant impact on your local community, they also assist Pam Geisel and Aubrey Bray in prioritizing program development and training needs on the statewide level. As individual counties and the UC system continue to face financial challenges, your hours are a vital component in securing future funding. During the past year you chose to contribute your valuable time to the Master Gardener program. Now it is the time to verify that the benefits of your volunteer projects are recorded and acknowledged on both the county and statewide level.
Following the completion of recertification and the entering of your volunteer hours, enjoy a snack of fresh fruit or vegetables. The vegetable scraps make a wonderful addition to the worm compost bin. Don’t have a worm compost bin? Recertify and I guarantee before long a fellow Master Gardener will introduce you to the wonderful world of worms.
Thank you, for being a part of the UC Master Gardener program.
In this post I want to point out more of the improvements to our programthat have resulted from the work of our Statewide Master Gardener office. I can personally attest to what a difference these improvements have made in Alameda County. We had none of the following when I became a Master gardener in 2001, and we were constantly making things up as we went along.
1. Master Gardener Program Administrative handbook, June 2008: defines policies and procedures for MG programs all over the state. Provides guidance, helps to ensure consistency, and helps to avoid duplication of effort.
2. Along the same lines as the handbook, the Statewide Office has standardized a number of things that now project a consistent brand and message throughout the state. We have a state logo, a state tagline "Advice to Grow By...Ask Us!" and a number of items, including clothing, with the logo in the Master Gardener store.
3. The State Office created a yearly training for our Program Coordinators, called the Volunteer Management Institute, which improves the skills of the coordinators and helps improve the consistency in how MG programs are managed statewide.
4. The state office has organized advanced training for volunteers that many of us have taken advantage of: such as Sustainable Landscaping, Advanced IPM, and others.
The Master Gardener Program has come a long way in the 11 years since I became involved and much of that rapid improvement has happened since the Statewide Master Gardener Program was created in 2005! A big "thank you" to our state staff!
What positive changes have you seen since the Statewide Master Gardeners Office came about? Any I forgot to mention?
This is the second in a series of short articles on the benefits we receivefrom the Statewide Master Gardener Office. The Office coordinates a Statewide Master Gardener conference every few years, with the last one being in Santa Rosa in 2011. Conferences have previously been held at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, San Jose, and Sacramento. They are always stimulating, informative, and enjoyable. They also are a tremendous amount of work, and the state office is essential in making it happen.
The next conference will be in 2014. The results of a statewide poll are now in, and the preference for location was heavily in favor of the Tenaya Lodge near the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. The Tenaya is a beautiful facility in a gorgeous location, and I'm certainly looking forward to spending a few days there when 2014 rolls around!
What are some of your favorite memories from past conferences? Will you attend Master Gardener Conference 2014?
This is the first of a series of short articles about thebenefits Alameda County Master Gardeners have received from the establishment of a statewide office and the hiring of a statewide coordinator in 2006. We were very fortunate to be able to hire Pam Geisel, a longtime farm advisor and local MG coordinator in Fresno County for this role. She has been excellent-- knowledgeable, politically savvy, forward-thinking and very competent. I have had the privilege of serving on a state advisory committee to Pam the past four years and have been able to see from the inside just how she and her office work to support and improve all county programs.
Of the many benefits that can be credited to the state office and coordinator, I think the one that has directly impacted me and all ACMGs the most has been the creation of the Volunteer Management System (VMS). There are still a number of us who remember what it was like pre-VMS. It seems now that our previous recordkeeping system for hours and contacts, our ability to schedule events and activities and our ability to communicate with one another was like something out of the Stone Age. And the VMS, thanks to our statewide office, keeps improving to meet our needs even better. Currently they are working on version 3.0, which should be done in the next 3-6 months.
Anyone else remember our Stone Age past? Are you looking forward to the new VMS system?
As a long-term UCCE environmental horticulture advisor, I would like to express my appreciation to Master Gardener Program Director Pam Geisel and her staff for providing outstanding statewide leadership.
In a mere six short years under Pam’s direction, the UC ANR Master Gardener program has received $ 300,000 in grants that provided support to the CA Garden Web; updates to the Backyard Orchard; the FAQ system; outreach materials such as posters and tips; sustainable landscape ‘train the trainer’ workshops and PowerPoint presentations; ‘Your Sustainable Backyard Training’ (in collaboration with CCUH); a SARE grant to support further sustainable landscape training; and, a recent ANR competitive grant to develop and extend training in edible landscapes across the state.
A great example of what the statewide Master Gardener office has accomplished is the formation and regular updating of timely information found on the CA Garden Web website (http://ucanr.org/sites/gardenweb). If you haven’t taken a look at it for awhile, it’s well worth a visit. The website serves as a portal for organizing and extending the University of California's vast collection of research-based information pertaining to home horticulture. Information focuses on sustainable gardening practices and includes how to select and maintain edibles as well as ornamentals. Be sure to take time to scroll down to the ‘Advice to Grow By – Ask Us!’ feature which includes questions and answers that you are very likely to encounter in your county.
While the tremendous service the statewide Master Gardener program provides is evident up and down the state, it’s important to note that although UC ANR provides some hard funding to support the statewide Master Gardener office, support for the statewide MG office at the local level is crucial, as well. At our recent statewide Master Gardener steering committee meeting, we discussed priority needs at the statewide level such as the development of online training modules; several additional continuing education WebEx’s; updating the Volunteer Management System, and many other dynamic enhancements. We also discussed potential mutually beneficial strategies to provide funding support for both local programs and the statewide office. Stay tuned for updates on this important topic and ways in which your voice can be heard.
Environmental Horticulture Advisor
San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties