The Transition from State to Local Funding for Virginia Master Gardener Volunteer Management

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Mail Code 0327, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
  • 2 Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Mail Code 0327, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Management changes brought about by 1996 budgetary action shifted local Master Gardener (MG) program management from state-funded local agents to a structure of coordinators consisting of locally funded agents, locally funded nonagent coordinators, and volunteers willing to take on additional responsibilities. The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) MG volunteer program is currently available in 76 unit offices. The unit programs are managed by 46 MG coordinators, including 8 locally funded agents, 8 locally funded technicians, and 30 volunteers. Currently, there are 2747 MG volunteers (trainees, interns, and MGs). To provide consistent, state-level direction and leadership to this less experienced group of local coordinators and to prepare them for their jobs as MG program managers, current management materials were extensively revised and expanded and new resources were developed. These efforts to ensure that everyone understood the purpose and focus of the VCE MG program resulted in revision of MG program policies, development of new volunteer training materials, establishment of a state-level MG planning and work team, new management guidelines, in-service training for coordinators, an administrative website and electronic discussion listserv available only internally to agents and coordinators, and a state MG newsletter focused on the role of MGs as community leaders and educators.

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