The Master Gardener Program in Columbia County started in 1999. Over 220 people have been trained since that time, and there are currently 32 certified Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) for 2017. The UW-Extension Educator facilitating the MG Program is Agriculture Agent George Koepp.
Volunteer Service in 2016
|Youth Education||130 hours|
|Adult Education||406 hours|
Since 2000: 25,076 hours at a value of over $456,449
* using the current estimated dollar value of volunteer time in Wisconsin of $22.48 per hour, from Independent Sector. Cumulative value based on previous annual estimates.
Where you can find activities by MGVs in Columbia Co.
- Columbia County Fair
- Let’s Get Green and Growing, Rio HS
- Plant Sale at Tractor Supply, Portage
- Fall River 3rd grade classrooms
- Pardeeville kindergarten classrooms
- St John’s Pardeeville 3-4-5 classroom
- Portage Community Garden
- Ladies Night Out at Portage Lumber
Inspiring the Next Generation of Gardeners
MGVs are involving young people in gardening in many ways. The micro-farm was used in four more classrooms, reaching about 230 students in four elementary schools; planting seeds and growing them for six weeks, then eating their work is a very tasty way to learn about plants. We taught elementary and middle school students in two school gardens about plant care while working side by side with them. One MGV taught 36 students in summer school and Interest Day how garden décor can help our garden eﬀorts, and had them make reflective animal/bird deterrents out of old CDs. High school honor students work with us at the Pauquette Park in Portage, and Fresh Start (an alternative program for youth working on HSEDs) students help mulch in Pardeeville, learning something outdoors.
A Fair Way to Share Our Story
Our booth at the Columbia County Fair this year focused on container gardens, and included literature and samples of many types of containers that can be used to grow vegetables or flowers. Many comments were made on the purse planted with flowers cascading out and down the sides! Having a hook to get people to stop at the booth is a key strategy, and this year it was the opportunity for kids to make a “seed bomb” to take home. The clay ball was made from wildflower seeds and kitty litter.
Let’s Get Green and Growing
Over 180 people learned about a variety of garden topics, from vegetables and flowers, to organic growing methods and back care while gardening in 9 concurrent sessions (several taught by MGVs) at our spring garden event.