North Carolina Master Gardeners Blaze a Virtual Trail

Harold Johnson, show host, behind the mic at WCOM 103.7 FM  (Photo: Lise Jenkins, EMGV in Durham County)
Harold Johnson, show host, behind the mic at WCOM 103.7 FM (Photo: Lise Jenkins, EMGV in Durham County)

 

One year ago this month, NC State Extension Master Gardeners in Durham County created a radio show. In developing their concept, the production team discovered that their show is the first in the country to be produced solely by Master Gardener volunteers.  Michelle Wallace, Durham County Horticulture Agent, supervises the show but all of the recording, audio engineering, photography, website management, social media, and promotion is done entirely by her Master Gardeners.  “We have an amazing group of volunteers in our county and they are always looking for new ways to teach people about gardening,” said Wallace.

Find Us on iTunes!

In January, the show expanded their format to include weekly podcasts of their episodes.  “We are thrilled people can now find our stories on  iTunes,” said Lise Jenkins, the show’s producer.  Podcasting allows listeners to subscribe to the show and receive automatic updates that can be heard on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Podcasts Reach More People

While the show began in Durham County, surrounding counties are beginning to participate with agents and Master Gardeners being interviewed and serving as correspondents.  Lucy Bradley, Associate Professor of Horticulture and Urban Horticulture Extension Specialist at NC State University, aspires to involve the whole state:  “We have Master Gardeners all over North Carolina who are enthusiastic educators and want to help their communities.  Using radio and podcasting is another way to reach out to the people of our state.”

Community Radio Stations

Initially carried on WCOM 103.5 FM in Carrboro, the show can now also be found on WDFC 101.7 FM in Greensboro.  “We would like to continue to expand our reach by working with more community radio stations,” said producer, Lise Jenkins. “Our show being done entirely by volunteers is very much in synch with the mission of community radio stations,” she continued.

Where Horticulture and Innovation Meet

The show focuses on stories about the intersection of horticulture and innovation and the people who are leading the way. “One of the reasons I like working on the show is it gives me an opportunity to meet and interview people who are contributing to the public’s education and enjoyment of gardens and gardening,” said Harold Johnson, the show’s host.

The Mission of Extension

Carrying forward the mission of Extension means the show covers a lot of territory.  Master Gardener correspondents have interviewed scientists, a New York Times best selling author, artists, homeowners, farmers, business owners, Extension agents, amateur and professional gardeners, and others. It also means the volunteers working on the show have had to learn how to master several different technologies. In addition to the regular radio broadcasts, the show has a website, a podcast feed which can be found on iTunes, a Twitter account, and most recently a Facebook page.

Six Month Project

“A year ago we decided to do a 6-month pilot project to see if a radio show could help us reach others in our community.  We were surprised at the response,” said agent Michelle Wallace.  She continued, “Every month our numbers keep growing.  But what’s most exciting is the involvement of people from other counties.  We are really starting to tap into the power of Extension and work together to help people all over our state.”

 Hear the Latest Episode

To hear the latest episode, visit Getting Dirty with Master Gardeners .

 

Submitted by Lise Jenkins, Getting Dirty with Master Gardener’s Producer, Extension Master Gardener (NC State 2011) volunteering in Durham County, NC