MASTER GARDENER UNIVERSITY: A PILOT LEADERSHIP/ADVANCED TRAINING EVENT

in HortScience

In a time of budgetary constraints, new strategies have to be developed if we are to continue to meet the demand for home horticulture information. This on-campus event was developed as one of those strategies. The goal of this event was to provide a train-the-trainer opportunity that would equip selected Master Gardeners to assume a larger role in the delivery of home horticulture information. Training needs were determined and included advanced training in insect and disease management, leadership, presentation skills, and computer skills. Educational materials were provided and “graduates” were given the charge of going back to their county groups and sharing what they had learned. Other goals of the event were to provide an opportunity to tour campus facilities, meet key university personnel, and provide recognition and motivation. Sixty-eight Master Gardeners attended this two-day pilot event in May. On-site evaluations were very positive with attendees ranking the educational sessions most beneficial of the activities provided. Year end reporting from the counties indicated that Master Gardeners conducted 82% more public programs in 2004, 49% more home visits and handled 18% more homeowner calls. Part of this substantial increase in program delivery can be contributed to the training these volunteers received at this event. Personal communication with county directors and Master Gardeners indicate that these volunteers are assuming more of a leadership role in the management of the county Master Gardener

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