MG Sharing: Refocusing an Association

Al Krause, Master Gardener Volunteer, Dodge Co. MG Association

The Dodge County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014.  The DCMGA Board felt this would be an excellent time to take a look at the advancements made over the ten years.  Because of steady membership growth, a healthy bank account, and great leadership, we considered ourselves successful; however, some of the “excitement” of the early years had evaporated.  It became a challenge to obtain a project chairperson or even a committee member in some instances.

The Board decided on a three-point process to solve this problem.

  • Review every project the DCMGA participated in during the previous few years regardless of how big or small.
  • Eliminate anything that may seem stagnant or does not fit the prime directive of helping people in the community better understand horticulture and the environment.
  • Find replacement programs and activities that would spark interest, educate, and unify members.

The three-point process seemed simple but became difficult when eliminating “pet” projects or activities that had been traditionally performed for years.  Ultimately, we eliminated some major projects.  As an example, we eliminated the Annual Photography Contest.  This activity had become labor intensive and did not really fit our prime directive. It had gained in popularity over the years and obtained a regional following.  We did receive some criticism from members and the general public; however, this project took considerable volunteer hours.

Additionally, there were other projects that were removed for various reasons.

Now the really tough assignment – find replacement programs and activities.  The Board received suggestions from membership and the general public, reviewed the Annual Accomplishment Report, and held meetings with our local extension professionals.  As a result, the following programs were added:

  1. Established Dodge County Administrative Building Educational Gardens
  2. Installed a “Little Free Library.”  This library is stocked with garden books for adults and children.
  3. Instituted the “Ask a Master Gardener Help Line.”  This informational resource can be accessed by phone, over-the-counter, or email.  Residents can call or bring in questions pertaining to plants, vegetables, fruits, insects, soil, flowers, turf, trees, and general gardening.
  4. The DCMGA hosted our first Gardening for Gold Fall Symposium on November 1st. The day-long event was held at the Horicon Marsh Education Center and was attended by gardening enthusiasts from all over Wisconsin.  A huge success!

We now enter 2015 with renewed enthusiasm and a focus on the goal of the Master Gardener program:

“……to train enthusiastic volunteers so they can, in turn, provide research-based information on a wide variety of horticultural topics to the general public in their communities.”

Dodge County UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Dodge County UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteers