At the end of 2019, 266 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 10,057 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $241,378 (Independent Sector). They also reported 2,583 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 15,652 individuals with various outreach projects.
This program operates in conjunction with Milwaukee County.
Teaching Young Gardeners About Plants and Pollinators
MGVs reached out into the community to teach youth about plants and pollinators. MGVs attended 3 High Interest Days at elementary schools and demonstrated how plants grow with a seed planting take away to 175 children. At the Historic Dousman Stagecoach Inn, 150 youth 3 to 14 years old learned how to plant vegetables, grow their own bean plant, and find their way through a prairie. 11 MGVs at the Waukesha County Fair taught 125 young people and their families about the monarch butterfly life cycle and 60 youth learned about butterflies at the Brookfield Farmers Market. To finish the season, MGVs discussed apple pollination and seeds with 125 youth and 116 adults at Retzer Nature Center during the Apple Harvest Festival. Youth Gardening Outreach increased its ability to grow young gardeners by creating digital archives. Now, when Extension has a youth education request, MGVs can easily choose age-appropriate curriculum and topic-specific activities. Its project group increased to 17 MGVs and they devoted 151 volunteer hours themselves to teaching youth.
Teach Others & Grow Veggies for a Shelter
Green Power Garden truly earns its name. Since it began 10 years ago, the garden has donated over 28,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables full of vitamin power to low-income community members. The MGVs harvested 750 pounds this year in spite of the cold, wet start to summer. They use the power of persuasion to get local garden centers to donate unsold seedlings, up to 1500 tomato plants alone and enough for 3-5 acres of plantings. These 10 MGVs use the power of social medias with 300 Facebook followers and 260 newsletter subscribers to create a powerful force of 556 community volunteers. The MGVs worked 336 hours and community volunteers contributed another 1565 hours for a total of 1901 hours this year. All types of groups come to work in the gardens together—scout troops, professional associations, college students, church groups and families. About 50% of them return again. “MGVs talk with each group about what we are doing that day and why. . . . We encourage curiosity in hopes that they choose to grow their own garden someday or try a new fruit or vegetable they have never had.”
Maintain Healing Garden at Hospital
The MGVs who tend the Community Memorial Hospital Healing Gardens create a respite garden for patients and staff of the hospital. Many hospice patients also have windows overlooking the gardens and can enjoy the beautiful setting even when they are unable to be outside. The 13 MGVs have spent 334 volunteer hours creating a garden and pathways that are used for physical and emotional therapy. The vibrant annual planting around a fountain and a pergola provide focal points while other areas provide restful quiet spots for contemplation. This garden has the added challenge of jumping worms and the MGVs are educating others about the worms and how to prevent their spread. The MGVs also arranged an additional education opportunity with Extension brochures and information placed in the lounge near the entrance to the garden.
Educate Visitors at State Fair
At State Fair Park, 29 MGVs from Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties spent over 500 volunteer hours reinvigorating the Master Gardener public education garden area for visitors coming to the Wisconsin State Fair. A new center garden bed created a colorful backdrop for over 100 MGVs who greeted 28,274 visitors during 704 volunteer hours spent on site. In addition to these interactions, visitors took home 8,281 brochures, including four newly translated into Spanish. Many conversations started as visitors cast 3,179 votes to pick a winner from 11 unique container plantings created by MGVs. The area also featured a vertical gardening display staffed by Lifelong Gardening Group members, a children’s play area, a dying tree decorated with images of likely insect inhabitants, a photo spot, and composting systems with educational signage. A youth scavenger hunt and visits from Extension Specialists and Horticulture Educators further increased public learning opportunities.