2017 Workshop 2nd Place – KCEMG Speakers’ Bureau, Knox County, TN

Prior to 2013, the Speakers Bureau made presentations in response to specific requests from a garden club or civic group. That all changed in 2013 when a librarian at one branch of the Knox County Library System approached the Speakers Bureau with a request for monthly talks on organic vegetable growing. She had observed that many adult branch patrons were checking out organic vegetable gardening books. Planning began for a series of presentations in cooperation with the Knox County libraries.

The organic vegetable series began in April of 2013, with monthly talks through November. Attendance confirmed the librarian’s observation about the local interest. We began planning seasonally appropriate talks and “pushing” them to the public, rather than waiting for a request.

In 2014, we scheduled seasonally appropriate talks for January through October, on both vegetable and ornamental topics. By April, attendance at the vegetable series was regularly exceeding the library meeting room capacity (25) and we had to change locations. We moved to the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, where hands-on activities could be implemented.   One YMCA, with 12 raised vegetable beds, asked that the monthly presentations be repeated at their site. Presentations on ornamentals were given at another local library and several local garden clubs and civic organizations.

Also in 2014, feedback forms were implemented. On the front, the audience assesses the presenter(s) as well as the content. On the back, there is a list of possible topics for future talks, and attendees are asked to mark the topics of interest. We also started to use a sign-in sheet, so that we could track attendance and collect email addresses from those who wanted to receive notices of upcoming events.

In 2015, the organic vegetable series (January through October) added two more venues for presentations, as did the herb and ornamental series.

In 2016, we stopped scheduling separate vegetable and ornamental talks as separate series and simply decided to do talks that were seasonally appropriate for either vegetable or ornamental gardening activities. Each month usually has a vegetable topic and an ornamental topic. (Some topics, like composting, apply to both vegetable and ornamentals.)

There was a lot of interest in pruning, so 2016 had a “Pruning 101: Rules & Tools” early in the season. Later on there was a “Pruning Hydrangea” talk as well as a “How to Prune Foundation Shrubs”. And for the first time, we did a “Fall Lawn Repair”, for which the attendance totaled 47 people.

In 2016, we did a total of 80 public talks, with a total attendance of just over 1750 people.

In 2017, because of the blazingly hot 2016 summer, followed by a fall drought, we added a “Spring Lawn Repair”. This talk had to be given twice. Next, because of a high interest in blueberries, we added “ABC’s of Blueberries”.

All of this supports one of our basic goals: to be aware of where the community interests are, and to develop new talks to address those interests. People come to our talks to learn something, and our evaluation/feedback form lets us know if we hit the mark.

 

NOTE: The photos submitted separately show that we present in a wide variety of venues. We often use PowerPoint, but as the photos also show, we often use a lot of props, like the photo of Marsha Lehman with the model raised beds. Finally, the Knox County Library system makes lovely color posters to publicize the talks held at their locations.

2017 Special Needs 1st Place – Gardening Through Life, Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties, WI

GARDENING THROUGH LIFE

Love to garden?  We’ve got the tools.  For many of us, gardening is a weekend warrior activity.  We sit all week at our desks and then don our gloves and grab our shovels and head to the yard with a vengeance, only to pay the price Monday morning.  As we age, it gets harder or we quit all together.  Well there is a better way and gardening does not have to be a “no pain, no gain” hobby.

Introduction

The Lifelong Gardening Committee (LLG) of Southeast Wisconsin Master Gardeners supports and assists UW-Extension in community horticulture programs, and our particular project is to educate the public on principles and methods that will enable you to enjoy gardening throughout your lifetime.  We are continually refining and developing our curriculum with input from research, UW-Extension resources and you, the public who participate in our presentations.  We have grown from an educational tool demonstration to providing interactive displays and presentations.  We think gardening for a lifetime is best accomplished in two ways:  (1) modifying the garden – accessibility and plant selection, and (2) modifying the gardener – techniques and tools.

History and Development

In 2010, a group of Master Gardener volunteers in southeastern Wisconsin received a small donation of adaptive tools and began the Lifelong Gardening Committee, whose focus was primarily ergonomic tools for joint protection and to prevent back injury.  We provided an opportunity to touch and hold and use different tools in various ways.  Our goal was to educate people in ways that allowed them to remain active and continue gardening for their entire lifetime without pain or injury.

Since then, we have greatly expanded our inventory and as additional members joined the Lifelong Gardening Committee with varying backgrounds, knowledge and experience, we expanded our presentations and displays to include information on gardening exercises and body mechanics, enabling tools, plant selection, joint safety, back safety, vertical gardening, and container gardening.  The presentations, displays, and unique hands-on opportunity has been extremely well received.

We encourage feedback from our attendees providing them with a survey form at each presentation.

Some of the comments received include:

“I have so many of these tools and now I know how to use them properly.”

“I learned the importance of standing up straight, reducing stress on the back.”

“I learned of great new tools I did not know existed.”

“I learned I am gardening wrong and I need to make changes in body position, tools, etc.”

Due to the positive responses and success of our project, requests for presentations began to exhaust our time and resources.  In order to meet requests throughout the state, we thought we could best accomplish this by adding the power of technology.  So we created the “Toolbox” to share our knowledge in a way that could be replicated by other master gardeners to present in their counties.

The Toolbox is available to everyone and includes:

  • Lifelong Gardening Mission Statement
  • Basic Information to Enable the Gardener
  • Easy Care Plant Selection for Southeast Wisconsin
  • Gardening Exercises and Body Mechanics
  • Tool Book/Inventory – includes descriptions, features, availability, and approximate cost
  • Tools Recommended Based on Budget
  • Tool Checkout Form (used by the LLG Committee)
  • Survey Form
  • Gardening for Life Video (3-part)
  • PowerPoint Presentations
    • Joint Protection
    • Back Protection
    • Vertical Gardening
    • Container Gardening

LLG Board Displayed at Presentations Panels include information related to:

  • Lifelong Gardening – About Our Mission and Us
  • Member Presentations and Plant Selection
  • Protecting your Back and Joints
  • Using the Proper Tools for the Job
  • Good Advice and Gardening on a Budget
  • Garden Up – Container and Vertical Gardening

 

Next Steps

We are proud of the work we are doing to share our information with the public and other Master Gardeners.  We are currently developing a Train-the-Trainer and Mentoring Program that will be delivered to any Master Gardener Chapters that would like to replicate this project.  We will stay up-to-date on adaptive tools and injury prevention so that we can share this information with gardeners, groups or associations who are interested in lifelong gardening practices.  As additional information or educational needs are identified, we will develop and include that new material in our Toolbox.

We think everyone can benefit from the Toolbox – Open it up – Dig around – See what you can find!
We wish everyone happy, healthy gardening for a lifetime

2017 Innovative Projects 1st Place – Composting and Worm Composting Video Series, Orange County, CA

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/