Master Gardener–Water Stewards: Advanced Training to Enhance Community Volunteerism

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  • 1 1Dept. of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., 407 Saunders Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327
  • 2 2Prince William County Extension Office, 8033 Ashton Ave., Suite 105, Manassas, VA 22110

Virginia Cooperative Extension's (VCE) Master Gardener–Water Steward program (MGWS) provides advanced training in leadership development and water quality management to Master Gardener (MG) volunteer educators so that they may expand the influence of Extension through leadership in community water quality management. Typically, agents cite limited staff and volunteer resources as the primary factor in restricting program expansion. The MGWS program simultaneously answers the desire of MGs to expand their role in the community landscape and the need of VCE to expand its outreach with increasingly limited resources. MGWS training, guided by a 10-unit resource book, integrates technical and program management expertise to foster volunteer pride and self-sufficiency. This allows MGWS to coordinate much of their own training and recruit and manage large numbers of non-MG volunteers to whom they can provide limited training for specific projects, thus allowing program expansion without additional staff. The Advanced Master Gardener–Water Steward Handbook allows for appropriate training of Master Gardeners so that Extension education is able to reach a larger audience than just that reachable by an agent alone. Eight slide sets on water-quality related topics are available as part of this program. They come complete with legible, easy-to-read scripts. Updated slide sets include Calibrating Your Lawn Spreader (40 slides), Minimum Chemical Vegetable Gardening (62 slides), Backyard Composting (56 slides), Reading and Understanding the Pesticide Label for Lawn and Garden (41 slides), Landscape Tree and Shrub Fertilization (43 slides), Applying Pesticides Safely for the Environment (47 slides), Water Quality and Landscaping Slide Set (48 slides), and Proper Management of Fertilizers on Home Lawns (40 slides).

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