Wreaths Across America Day

Congratulations to all Extension Master Gardener Groups that participated in Wreaths Across America Day on December 11th.
This event grew from the efforts of Worcester Wreath and others to adorn graves at Arlington National Cemetary. Worcester Wreath donates (literally) truckloads of wreaths toward the Arlington project and has done so long before many people took notice. Today, over 400 locations participate in remembering fallen veterans during the holiday season with wreaths from a variety of sources.  
A television news station in Youngstown, OH took notice of the Mahoning County Master Gardener's participation in Canfield. The event in Huntsville, AL recieved a nice write up in the local weekly newspaper, which included a mention of master gardener participation.
In 2008, the United States Congress unanimously decreed the second Saturday of December as Wreaths Across America Day.
From the Wreaths Across America (TM) website:
It is our hope that everyone in their everyday lives extends a handshake of gratitude to our American heroes.
WAA ceremonies are held at over 400 locations in the USA and 24 off shore. There is no charge to hold or attend WAA ceremonies.
WAA could not carry out its mission without the help of volunteers, location leaders, sponsors, fund raisers and the generous donations of trucking companies. We extend a special thanks to all involved. 
Holiday best wishes, Bill Hoffman – USDA/NIFA

Links from Across the Country

Here is a rundown of recent blog posts and releases that may be of interest to master gardeners, regardless of where they garden:

Burpee Offers Funding for Community Gardening – The Louisiana EMG blog highlights this national opportunity. Note the application deadline of 12/3/10.

Lawns & Dogs Can Coexist – Over the Backyard Fence, the University of Minnesota EMG blog, highlights a recently updated classic article on the topic.   

Georgia Gardeners Offer Tips on Holiday Gifts – Via www.eXtension.org/horticulture, members of the extended University of Georgia EMG family provide holiday gardening gift giving ideas. Have you made your list?

Want More Bird Visitors? Non-native Plants Might be the Answer – The wonderful blog, the Garden Professors, has an excellent post on plant selection to attract birds. Bottom line: Bio-diverse, non-invasive, and red.

The Demo Garden Blog– A tip of the hat to Sedgewick County Kansas EMGs on their regularly updated and picture filled demonstration garden blog. Truly impressive!  

Do you have an EMG related link that should have made the list? Please share it in the comments section.

Best, Bill HoffmanUSDA/NIFA

Washington Post Coverage of Extension Master Gardener Family

In April 2010, two Washington Post articles highlighted the efforts of master gardener volunteers and educators.

On April 1st, an article ran titled: The extension service’s programs help local gardeners grow. Written by gardening columnist, Adrian Higgins, it advocates for a strong extension presence in cities and suburban areas to aid homeowners in growing plants and improve the health of their landscapes.  His concluding statement is:

“Showing new generations how to protect the environment and feed themselves in the crowded city and suburb may be as vital in the 21st century as helping farmers to cultivate the fruited plains in the 19th.”

Another article followed on April 12th titled Agriculture Department seeds the way for “people’s garden,” which describes efforts to undertake public garden projects at USDA headquarters and other USDA facilities around the world. At headquarters, an abbreviated “Executive Master Gardener” training program was undertaken this year with the help of extension educators:

“This year, the agency decided it would require volunteers to complete a six-week Master Gardener training program and pass an exam before being allowed to volunteer. Taught by extension-service experts who flew to Washington from throughout the country, the course covered topics including botany and storm-water management. That requirement did not dampen enthusiasm for the program. The class’s 80 spaces were filled within 15 minutes of the announcement, and 70 other people were turned away, said Livia Marques, director of the People’s Garden Initiative.”

Class attendees were encouraged to enroll in local master gardener training programs to gain more extensive training and/or to engage in local master gardener projects. The following courses were offered by master gardener coordinators and other educators from around the country:

  • Garden Botany – Curtis Smith (NMSU)
  • Master Gardener Program – Sandra Farber-Bandier (UDC)
  •  Soils and Fertilizers – Trish Steinhilber (UMD)
  • Plant Health – Mary Kay Malinoski & Dave Clement (UMD)
  • Intro to Insects/IPM – Carol Sutherland (NMSU)
  • Water Use/Conservation – Angela O’Callagan (UNR)
  • Answers to Garden Questions – Rick Durham (Kentucky)

The United State’s Forest Service’s David Pivorunas also gave an excellent presentation on garden wildlife. Watch this blog for future announcements regarding video availability of these presentations.

Best, Bill Hoffman