Winnebago County Master Gardeners

Winnebago County had 110 members, including 95 certified for 2015 and 21 students in the fall Level 1 training class.

In 2014 we volunteered 413 hours in youth education
900 hours in community education
6,484 hours in support service
and participated in 2,132 hours in continuing education

The Winnebago County Master Gardeners meet on the second Tuesday of September through May. There is an Awards dinner in December and a group picnic in June. Each business meeting includes a speaker presentation or demonstration. There are several garden walks in the summer, visiting member or local resident gardens. The MGA has a website and publishes a monthly member newsletter that includes a calendar with key dates, including project work dates. Each major project has a lead or co-leads and they do a speed report (5 minutes max) at one of the spring meetings updating the group on progress, participation opportunities, resource needs. This gives all members—but especially the newest ones—a great opportunity to learn about projects and select one or more to participate in.

Major Accomplishments or Projects:

  1. Tri-County Home and Garden Show. There are numerous talks about horticulture topics during the show that is held the last weekend of March. We have a large booth with displays on composting, invasive species, tree planting and care, and how to find UWEX information on plant care and disease. The handouts on vegetable growing attract many visitors who stop to talk to the MGVs about garden successes and issues.
  2. Parkview County Nursing Home. We maintain a prairie plant garden on the grounds with more than 100 of the plants identified with numbers corresponding to a handout sheet. There is significant interest of native and prairie plants and this allows visitors to become acquainted with these plants.
  3. Invasive Species. We sponsor workdays on the Wiouwash trail for identification and removal of invasive species, particularly garlic mustard. Other workdays remove buckthorn from right of ways and conservancy areas. MGVs educate other volunteers about invasives during these workdays.
  4. School Butterfly Garden. MGVs worked with an Oshkosh elementary school to “rescue” a butterfly garden that was in disarray. They educated the children and parents about butterflies and the role of plant in their lives, and sponsored a trip to a butterfly garden for the students.
  5. Habitat for Humanity. MGVs worked with new homeowners to design landscaping for their homes, select plant stock, work with the planting volunteers to correctly site and install the plants, and teach all on how to care for the new gardens.

Highlighted Project: Monarch Butterfly Host and Nectar Plants

Several speakers at our meetings or the Winter Escapes, Summer Dreams seminar had discussed butterfly host and nectar plants, and about the plummeting monarch populations so the group wanted to help educate the community about the preservation of this insect. Forty five milkweed plants of various species were donated to the MGA and were planted in our various project and personal gardens. The plants thrived and attracted the attention of many visitors to the project gardens, allowing MGVs to discuss milkweeds as part of a beautiful garden, the need for host as well as nectar plants, the fascinating monarch life cycle, and to show visitors the larvae eating the milkweed leaves.

The MG booth at the Oshkosh Farmer’s Market also featured displays and information about butterfly gardens and monarchs. A scratch-off butterfly craft project was a feature of our Farm Market Children’s Day. MGVs also reported monarch sightings at other projects, such as the Memorial Garden at the Oshkosh Humane Society where about a dozen monarchs flitted through the flowers one day.