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Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Erika Kirsch

The Internet has become a tool used in business, education, and leisure pursuits. Extension has used the Internet in a variety of ways including the training of extension staff and volunteers and the dissemination of information. In 2001, a survey was developed to determine the comfort level, familiarity, and use of computers and the Internet by active Oregon Master Gardeners (MGs). Basic demographic data was also collected. We found that 85% of respondents use computers and are very comfortable with computers and the Internet. This extensive use and comfort level suggests that the Internet may be an acceptable alternative to the traditional face-to-face training method for some Oregon MGs.

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Erika Kirsch and Ann Marie VanDerZanden

The last statewide survey of the Oregon Master Gardener (MG) Program was completed in 1992. Since that time, the program has expanded from 20 to 27 counties and increased by over 600 new volunteers. Compared to other MG programs around the United States, Oregon is the tenth largest in number of volunteers and seventh in hours volunteered. Considering the size of the Oregon MG program and changes seen in annually compiled statistics, a better understanding of who the Oregon MGs are and what they think about their personal volunteer experience became critical. We developed a survey tool to understand the Oregon MG demographic composition and personal volunteer experience. Compared to the 1992 baseline survey, the general trends found in the 2001 survey suggest that Oregon MGs are younger, joining the program with more college education, live further from cities and towns, and are more often employed. Still, the commitment level to volunteering is similar to, or has exceeded 1992 levels.