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Sheri T. Dorn, Marc T. Aveni and Paula Diane Relf

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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Sheri T. Dorn, Milton G. Newberry III, Ellen M. Bauske and Svoboda V. Pennisi

This present quantitative study documented the demographic base of 21st century Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers in the United States. As the EMG program approaches its fifth decade and momentum builds for national leadership, collaborative programming, and innovative impact reporting, it is important to understand the characteristics of the current volunteers and their coordinators. A national study of EMG coordinators and volunteers was conducted in Fall 2016. Response was strong, representing 71.4% of state programs and 7498 volunteers. Responding state coordinators are primarily white females, have a mean age of 51.2 years, and have served in their position an average of 7.2 years. Most state coordinators (94.1%) have a graduate degree (master’s or higher). Responding local coordinators are primarily white females, have a mean age of 51.9 years, and have served in their position 7.5 years. Some local coordinators (57.4%) have a graduate degree (master’s or higher). EMG volunteers responding were primarily female, white, educated, retired, and of economic means; have a mean age of 64.8 years; and have served an average of 7.7 years. Four generations [Traditionalist (born 1925–42), Baby Boomer (born 1943–60), GenX (born 1961–81), and GenY (born 1982–2000)] were represented in survey responses. EMG volunteers were 14.5% Traditionalists, 73.2% Baby Boomers, 11.5% GenX, and 0.9% GenY. There were significant differences in the age, age at initial training, years of active service, and service hours reported in 2015 (the prior complete program cycle) among four generations of EMG volunteers. Responses from EMG volunteers and their coordinators represented all six extension programmatic regions established by the EMG National Committee. Significant differences in age, years of service, and number of volunteer service hours reported in 2015 exist among EMG volunteers across extension programmatic regions. The majority of EMG volunteers responding to the survey indicated they volunteered in an urban county (80.5%), whereas 17.2% of respondents served in a suburban county and 2.1% were connected with rural counties. There were no significant differences in the average age, years of service, and number of volunteer service hours reported in 2015 for EMG volunteers in urban, suburban, and rural programs. Historical data and the present study share similar trends within demographics, including age, income, gender, education, and race/ethnicity, yet offer important considerations for future program growth and development.

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Susan D. Day, Sheri T. Dorn, Diane Relf and J. Roger Harris

Virginia Cooperative Extension's (VCE) Master Gardener!Tree Steward program (MGTS) provides advanced training in leadership development and arboriculture to Master Gardener (MG) volunteer educators so that they may expand the influence of extension through leadership in community forestry. According to a statewide survey, 70% of VCE MGs and agents with MG programs would like to be involved in community tree programming. Only 26% were currently involved. Typically, agents cite limited staff and volunteer resources as the primary factors in restricting program expansion. Furthermore, 90% of municipal foresters indicated they would like to work with trained volunteers. The MGTS 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. MGTS training, guided by a 10-unit resource book, integrates technical and program management expertise to foster volunteer pride and self-sufficiency. This allows MGTSs 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.

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Susan D. Day, Sheri T. Dorn, Diane Relf and J. Roger Harris

The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Advanced Master Gardener-Tree Steward (AMGTS) program provides advanced training in leadership development and arboriculture to MG volunteer educators so they may expand the influence of extension through leadership in community forestry. A statewide survey of agents, MGs, and foresters served as the basis for developing the training package, which was funded in part by the Virginia Department of Forestry. According to a statewide survey, 70% of VCE MGs and extension agents with MG programs would like to be involved in community tree programming, while only 26% was currently involved. Typically, agents cited limited staff and volunteer resources as the primary factors in restricting program expansion. Furthermore, 90% of municipal foresters indicated they would like to work with trained volunteers. The AMGTS 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. AMGTS training, guided by a 10-unit resource book, integrates technical and program management expertise to foster volunteer pride and self-sufficiency. This allows MG tree stewards to coordinate much of their own training and recruit and manage non-MG volunteers to whom they can provide limited training for specific projects, thus allowing program expansion without additional staff. The training is designed for delivery by knowledgeable professionals in the local community, such as arborists, horticulturists, college professors, extension specialists, MGs, and others who can provide quality training following the program guidelines.