Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 2 of 2 items for

  • Author or Editor: Kerry Smith x
Clear All Modify Search

According to the 2021 Extension Master Gardener (EMG) National Summary, the EMG Volunteer Program had an estimated 84,700 volunteers throughout the United States. These volunteers helped communities garden and grow food, provided opportunities to engage in activities that improved physical and mental health, and worked on projects that addressed environmental issues. In total, these programs contributed 3.1 million hours of education to local communities and $88 million dollars in value to the public. However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for the program, with many states implementing reduced requirements and increased flexibility for volunteers. The workshop “Dynamic Volunteer Engagement and Impactful Educational Outreach Taking Us Into the Next 50 Years of the EMG Program” at the 2022 ASHS conference discussed how to engage EMG volunteers despite the limitations of limited in-person contact. The workshop featured three Extension educators and EMG coordinators who shared their experiences and strategies for engaging volunteers during the pandemic. Topics discussed included engaging volunteers in local food systems and community gardens, engaging students in horticulture at an earlier age, and digital volunteer opportunities. Overall, the workshop provided valuable insights and facilitated discussions on how to adapt and continue the EMG program during challenging times.

Open Access

Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers are key to effective dissemination of horticultural information to the public. The goal of this workshop was to identify techniques to increase the capacity and effectiveness of EMG volunteers. The workshop focused on projects and tools that reduce the administrative burden of managing volunteers, increase the scope of issues that volunteers are prepared to address, and pool volunteer efforts and resources across county lines. Two online systems for managing and reporting EMG volunteer activities were described. Both systems are intuitive, user-friendly, and updated without the assistance of web managers. Regional web-based, advanced training on specific topics was used to expand educational messages of EMG volunteers and eliminate the costs associated with face-to-face training. Presentations were made using distance learning technologies and resources were shared online. Hosting agents tailored hands-on supporting activities to meet local needs. Volunteers expanded extension outreach by answering noncommercial landscape and garden telephone questions. Many of the administrative, logistical, and resource burdens associated with the EMG helpline phone service were overcome by working across county lines, standardizing training, centralizing supporting resources, and clustering volunteers into regional telephone helpline offices. Other projects and tools presented in the workshop focused on the need to affirm and/or foster the volunteers' connection with the university and the outreach mission of Cooperative Extension.

Full access