UCCE Orange County Master Gardeners harnessed the outreach strength of their website (http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/) to accomplish the Master Gardener educational mission by teaching the public to successfully compost in their backyards, community gardens, and other gardening locations. Master Gardeners prepared materials to illustrate the process and assist home gardeners in their composting efforts with as a series of videos with step-by-step instructions on how to compost, build a bin, start and maintain a pile and troubleshoot problems. The short and concise videos provided demonstrations with verbal explanations. A second set of similar videos was prepared to address composting with worms. By strategically keeping the videos short and covering a single topic in each one, the Master Gardeners offered the viewer the option of finding the exact information needed to answer a specific question, or of watching the entire series to understand the complete process.
Use of the website in this manner for public outreach placed the resources of the University within reach of anyone who visits it. Viewing the videos prompted visitors to explore other resources such as the Master Gardener Hotline, Radio Podcasts and the Gardening Event Calendar. The website also provided links to University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources sites, and other reliable gardening information. To date, visits to the site number more than 22,000. Since January 2015 there have been more than 9,796 views of the composting video series and the traffic keeps increasing.
Only University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener educational material and guidelines were used to create the videos. The preferable UC method of composting, the Hot or Rapid Method, was emphasized in the composting video series. Also, because gardeners may be limited by backyard space, availability of materials, or other considerations, an alternative video series, Composting With Worms highlighted its advantages and benefits. Having videos on both methods provided gardeners with choices and helped ensure success for a wider audience.
The team responsible for this project has extensive computer and video filming expertise as a result of their work experiences. For this team, and for any others with this kind of background, the project is straightforward. Beginning as an assignment for students in the Master Composting certification class, it consisted of a series of nine videos on the composting process and six videos on worm composting. Taped live in a composting environment, the videos featured narrators who are members of the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau and have experience in giving group lectures. Once the scripts were written using the guidelines from the Master Composter manual, the videos were shot on site, edited and uploaded to the website.
The availability of these videos addressed the growing questions on the Master Gardener hotline for information and speaker requests on composting, especially in light of the management of solid waste requirements of California Assembly Bill 939. One goal was to reach a wide audience – a must in any gardening active community where time demand is greater than volunteer staff can manage. Using you tube-type capabilities in the form of quick and easy videos allows the information to be made available to a large audience on-demand in an easily recognizable and usable format.
The decisions on which aspects of composting to highlight, what to cover in the videos, and how to keep it simple, were determined by the members of this team. To our knowledge, there are no published guidelines for this type of project for Master Gardeners. All videos are available at http://uccemg.com/Soils-Fertilizers-Compost/Composting-Video-Series-386/