2017 Workshop 1st Place – 10-Minute University, Clackamas County, OR

A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon


10-Minute University™ offers a shortcut to research-based gardening know-how. During 2015 & 2016, 10-Minute University speakers taught one hundred and fourteen classes serving 3,883 clients with 5,370 educational contacts. Classes and handouts are offered free to all persons.

A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon

Clackamas County Master Gardeners began 10-Minute University™ as short classes for busy shoppers at their popular Spring Garden Fair. In 2006, they tested the idea by offering 10 classes, each lasting only 10 minutes. Client evaluations immediately showed that the audience liked every aspect of these classes except their duration. Today, the average class lasts 25 minutes.

Every class is evaluated in writing to assess the overall class, content, presenter, and likelihood of using what was learned. Clients participate on a voluntary basis. Results are tallied, shared, and tracked over time for action.

Program Design

A strong evaluation system is just one core tenet. The other two are highly-skilled MG instructors and well-crafted take-home handouts.

Instructors are active Master Gardeners who excel in public speaking and horticultural knowledge. All are committed to research-based information.

A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon

A two-sided, one-sheet handout accompanies each class. Its development begins with a review of extension literature and ends with review comments from Extension agents, with many drafts and revisions in between. MG volunteers do the research, drafting, revisions, editing, and publishing.

Currently there are forty-three handouts posted at www.cmastergardeners.org

SFE A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon


10-Minute University classes are featured at two Clackamas County Master Gardeners annual educational events. In March, Garden Discovery Day helps jumpstart the gardening season. In October, Fall into Gardening shows how to put a garden ‘to bed’.

Classes continue to be part of the Spring Garden Fair in May, the MG Speakers’ Bureau year-round, and are offered at the Oregon City Farmers Market during the summer.


A. Written Survey (upon completion of class)

Evaluations show the vast majority of clients find 10-Minute University classes an effective way to learn. During 2015 and 2016, every class was evaluated in writing by clients. The graph below shows the results.

88% of clients surveyed strongly agreed with the statement “I will use what I learned today.”

B. Longitudinal Survey (3 months after class)

Two themes emerged from their responses to the question “Have you used anything learned from those classes? If yes, would you share some specifics?”

First, clients used what they learned.

  • “I successfully deterred slugs from my new plants, planted some beautiful potted containers, and reseeded my entire lawn. I also amended my soil this year with compost.”
  • “The class on pollinators was wonderful! I started a new garden just for bees and butterflies.”

Second, clients gained confidence in gardening.

  • “My husband and I planted our first vegetable garden using the information given to us by this series of classes. It gave us our confidence to do things correctly, instead of trial and error.”
  • “Yes! You guys are my source to current gardening practices and how-to. Without you I would not have the confidence I have today.”

2017 Community Service 1st Place – Village Harvest, Kauai, Hawaii

The island of Kaua`i is the most remote populated-landmass in the U.S. (arguably, the world). Although we have year-round rainfall and sunshine, aptly providing us the nickname “The Garden Isle”, we’re currently importing an estimated 85-90% of our food. At any given time, Kaua`i has just a 7-day food supply on island for the population, making food security and sovereignty uniquely critical issues. This issue of food security is exacerbated given that nearly 36% of households on Kaua`i are “economically needy”.

Village Harvest began in 2014 when Master Gardener Trainees Megan Fox and Keone Kealoha, who work for Malama Kaua`i, noticed grapefruit falling on the ground at the University of Hawaii (UH) Agricultural Research Center during their Master Gardener classes – long-lost and forgotten leftovers from previous agricultural experiments. Working closely on food access issues in their work and seeing many children without access to fresh food, the pair decided they would gather the other Master Gardeners to collect the unutilized fruit and donate it to four Hawaiian charter schools without school food programs. That first harvest collected and delivered over 236 pounds of fresh fruit to children that week, and thus, Village Harvest was born.

Shortly thereafter, Village Harvest became a solidified partnership between Malama Kaua`i and the Kaua`i Master Gardeners.  This team worked to ensure that the productive 4-acres of fruit orchards at the UH Wailua Agricultural Research Center were utilized in providing fresh produce to needy schools without school food programs, using the talent and time of Master Gardener volunteers through gleaning and caring for the underutilized orchard.

A $10,000 grant from the HMSA Foundation was awarded to assist with the purchase of a wide variety of professional harvesting and pruning tools and supplies, including washing sink installations, for the UH Station and Malama Kaua`i’s Community Farm. These supplies enabled the development of two gleaning hubs, insurance and recordkeeping support, and weekly gas stipends for delivery drivers – who often drive over two hours to get produce to needy schools on the opposite side of the island.

The abundance of unused produce on our island was astounding. Calls frequently came from retirees and farmers. Farmers saw our program as a great resource to donate unsold produce after farmers markets, to receive a tax-deduction for donations rather than lower the price tag (and therefore the ongoing market value) for their produce during surplus harvests.

Although we had targeted serving just four schools, the program captured so much produce that we ended up growing our delivery service to three after school Boys & Girls Club programs and several food banks and pantries across the island. We were also surprised by the response from donors. In addition to UH’s orchards, we had 9 other donors including several residents, Kaua`i Community College’s GoFarm program, and commercial farms such as Moloa`a Organica`a and Steelgrass Farms.

With over 450 volunteer hours from Master Gardeners and community volunteers, Village Harvest was able to collect and deliver 9,187 pounds of produce to needy children and families within the first year of the program (2014 through Sept. 2015).  As of September 2016, we have collected over 14,000 lbs of produce.

Village Harvest provides a wide variety of learning opportunities both within the Master Gardener Program and in the community focused on food safety/GAPs, pruning, orchard care, agricultural waste, food access and more.

As part of the partnership between Kaua`i Master Gardeners and Malama Kaua`i, several Master Gardeners have also been placed into volunteer roles within the Kaua`i School Garden Network, supporting schools across the island with their garden education programs. Master Gardeners have taught students a variety of skills, such as caring and installing school-based food orchards. Schools have also utilized the fresh produce donated from Village Harvest in a variety of educational lessons, which included guest speakers on nutrition and juicing, as well as incorporating donated produce into culinary classes that prepare student meals and snacks.

In 2016, the project has onboarded a full-time AmeriCorps service member to expand the program and build gleaning stations and networks across the island. Many different funders have stepped in to support the expansion of this program, including The Ulupono Initiative, Light Shines from Within Fund at RSF Social Finance, Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, Matson, Friends of Hawaii Charities, and individual donors.

For more information, please visit Village Harvest Program or Kaua`i Master Gardener Program.

2017 Community Service 2nd Place – Speaker’s Bureau/ Toastmaster Gardeners, Orange County, CA

Orange County Master Gardeners faced a quandary: how to fulfill the Master Gardener mission of providing science-based information to home gardeners to the nearly three million residents of Orange County.

Because public speaking is an important part of providing the information, Master Gardeners established a Speakers Bureau in 2008 – originally getting 25 to 50 requests annually.  Master Gardeners wanted to provide presentations that not only got the information across, but ones that truly piqued the interest and attention of their audience – they were seeking WOW presentations.  In late 2009, they enlisted the experts: Toastmasters, the internationally recognized, well-established program developed to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

Master Gardeners established a closed club, ToastMaster Gardeners of Orange County within their Master Gardener organization for the benefit of all members and especially the members of the Speakers Bureau.  The club is open to membership by UCCE Master Gardeners, UCCE Master Food Preservers, and their immediate family members (spouses, significant others, or children).  Through the established training methods and materials developed by Toastmasters, speakers garnered skills and techniques that made them more effective in delivering the Master Gardener messages with confidence.  As a bonus, the skills learned in Toastmasters enriched the interactions at booths and other public events.

While the Orange County Master Gardeners are provided extensive training in all aspects of garden issues, there was no program in place that had public speaking training.  Some Master Gardeners were shy and/or introverted and even felt intimidated when staffing booths at events such as garden shows and fairs.  The Toastmaster program addressed these issues with well-designed speech guidelines.  It established goals and plateaus for both communication and leadership, which also helped develop leaders for many local projects.  As added benefits of the infusion of professionalism in the Speakers Bureau by an alliance with Toastmasters, Master Gardeners have broadened the scope of topics offered to the public and have collected email lists (5000+ individuals) from presentations that have resulted in an increase in outreach and more speaking opportunities.

Currently, the Speakers Bureau delivers presentations, demonstrations and workshops to the public in various venues including garden clubs, parks, garden shows, medical facilities, the county fair, and several other organizations.  Because the value and professionalism of presentations spread throughout the community, the demand for speakers increased over the last five years from less than 50 per year to nearly 150 per year.

The Toastmasters club has proven to be popular with Master Gardeners, with many members of the club advancing through various levels of expertise. In addition, due to the efforts and strong participation of club members, the Club has achieved the President’s Distinguished Club award for seven consecutive years.

It is evident that this program benefits the community due to the numbers of individuals remaining after presentations to discuss particular issues, confirming that much of the information is being retained and used.  Finally, presentations are being sought after and well attended, which further validates that the information is being used.  Orange County Master Gardeners have been asked to conduct edible gardening seminars for Memorial Care Hospital System (four hospitals plus corporate offices) as part of a healthy lifestyle campaign; an educational gardening series for children at the Great Park in Irvine; an on-going series for new homebuyers; and lecture schedules for libraries and medical insurance companies on gardening’s place in the wellness milieu.  In addition, Master Gardeners presented at and staffed a booth for a Health Fair presented at the Nixon Presidential Library.  Master Gardeners have even presented at Disneyland! Presentations average an audience of 30, but can be as high as 100+ participants.

In the past two years, Toastmaster training has enabled Master Gardeners to host a weekly radio show “What to do in the Garden this Month.” Podcasts of these radio shows are available to the public

Setting up a Toastmaster club is relatively inexpensive.  There is a one-time chartering fee of $125 and a $20 new member fee per person.  After that, the six-month membership fee is $45 per person.  There was no extra cost involved for the training of Master Gardeners as Toastmasters.  All training was done in-house with materials provided by Toastmasters International.

The Orange County Master Gardeners have more than 300 active members and new members are recruited from the Master Gardener In Training classes.  Therefore, it is easy to maintain the membership necessary to be a viable club.  Other counties with a smaller base of MGs could encourage their members to join Toastmaster groups in their communities for this training.  The training received from Toastmasters International is standardized for all clubs worldwide.