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.

2015 Search for Excellence Awards – Workshop — 3rd Place Winner

Seed to Supper

Seed to Supper is a joint program of the Oregon Food Bank and the Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener Program.

Hunger and food security are issues that all communities face. Buying seeds and starts to grow can increase a family’s access to nutritious food. But unfortunately, many people lack the skills or confidence to plant and tend a garden.

Seed to Supper is a comprehensive, 5-week beginning gardening course that gives novice, adult gardeners the tools they need to successfully grow a portion of their own food on a limited budget.

A 96-page workbook was written as a resource for participants to use during and after the class. It contains researched-based information in the areas of

  • Garden site and soil development
  • Garden planning
  • Garden planting
  • Maintaining the garden
  • Harvesting and using your bounty

Because classes are often taught during the cool months prior to the gardening season, in locations that do not have access to a garden, five PowerPoints have been developed to help assisting in the teaching of the material. They follow the five chapters of the workbook and provide a visually stimulating method for teaching outside the actual garden.

The PowerPoints also provide a method to insure quality control from class to class, as different volunteers serve in the roles as garden educators.

While the workbook and PowerPoints provide for a consistent program, Seed to Supper has been designed to be flexible. In their role as gardening educators, teams of Master Gardeners modify the curriculum to meet the needs of their individual audiences. They have changed the number of days taught, added hands-on activities, brought tools as visual aids and grown starts to help people get their gardens started.

After the 2013 pilot year the Seed to Supper program was edited to a more accessible reading level and translated into Spanish to help us engage a more diverse audience.

The programs adaptability and popularity can be seen in the fact that it has spread from the tri-county Portland area where it started in 2013 to being taught in 15 counties this year.

For more information on the Seed to Supper program you can go to the program’s website hosted by the Oregon Food Bank.

 

Submitted by Lynn Cox, Washington County Oregon Master Gardener

2015 Search for Excellence Winners are Announced!

Congratulations to the Twenty-one 2015 Search for Excellence Awards winners!IMGC Logo

Search for Excellence (SFE) is the recognition of outstanding projects by Master Gardener volunteers throughout the United States and Canada. These twenty-one awards were presented at the International Master Gardener Conference 2015 (IMGC 2015), Horticultural Horizons in the Heartland.Horticultural Horizons in the Heartland Logo

SFE Awards are presented every two years at the IMGC conference where Master Gardener volunteers, Extension staff and faculty gather to learn from each other, share projects and to network with their peers from around the world. Twenty one Master Gardener programs were recognized for their outstanding achievement from a field of seventy two applications, submissions from twenty six USA states and two Canadian provinces.

First, second and third place awards are presented in seven categories:

• Community Service
• Demonstration Gardens
• Innovative Projects
• Special Needs Audiences
• Research
• Workshop or Presentation
• Youth Programs

All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place. The SFE projects need to be ongoing projects for at least two years; one of the winners this year has been going on for twenty six years. The IMGC Committee judges the applications. Winning projects were chosen on the basis of their originality and creativity; practicality of the program; simplicity of replication by other Master Gardeners and their significant impact on their communities.

First place winners received a plaque and a small stipend to continue their educational projects. The twenty one awarded projects displayed posters of their projects at the IMGC 2015 conference. Congratulations to all the SFE awardees that are involved in these excellent projects.

Beginning next week and continuing over the next several months, this blog will feature stories and pictures from each 2015 Search for Excellence award winners. Watch for the upcoming postings and read about these outstanding projects.

The 2017 SFE awards nominations soon, more information will be found on the 2017 IMGC Webiste.