At the end of 2019, 67 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 6,077 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $145,848 (Independent Sector). They also reported 1,421 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 11,105 individuals with various outreach projects.
Learning the Historic Importance of the Back-Yard Garden
Four Wood County Master Gardener Volunteers maintained and presented the Civil War era Wakely Garden at Historic Basse Pointe in Nekoosa. These volunteers gave daily 20-minute presentations during the growing season; most of the participants were children from school groups with over 1800 total attendees. During the presentations, the Wood County Master Gardeners discussed the historic need for each family to grow a garden for their personal food, medicines, cloth, dyes and flour. The presentation changed with the needs of the garden, including preparing, planting, and harvesting. Each week, the children were given a hands-on opportunity to participate; this fall the children threshed wheat to prepare for grinding.
Attracting More than Butterflies
At least 70 residents and family members of Edgewater Haven in Port Edwards benefitted from the Sensory Gardens maintained by five Wood County Master Gardeners. The themed and accessible beds are designed around each of the senses, including edibles such as blueberries, strawberries and herbs. Early in 2019, the garden became a Certified Monarch Waystation through the University of Kansas-Lawrence. After learning about monarchs through the literature displayed at the garden by Master Gardeners, a wheelchair bound resident began to raise monarchs on his own. During the season, he raised and released 40 monarchs, sharing the experience with other residents at the nursing home.
Building upon Previous Success
In 2018, the Wood County Master Gardeners began a pilot program, traveling to each library throughout the county to give a “Coffee and Garden Talk”. In 2019, the WCMG expanded the program, adopting six of the seven county libraries and hosting a series of round table discussions at each location. Some libraries hosted programs year long, while others were conducted from June through August. Knowing that libraries can be a lifeline in rural communities, eleven Wood County Master Gardeners were able to bring educational opportunities to even the most agrarian areas of Wood County.
Showcasing Talent at the Central Wisconsin State Fair
The Wood County Master Gardeners filled many roles at the Central Wisconsin State Fair. Fair goers wandered from the beautifully themed demonstration garden to the robust booth filled with displays ranging from Jumping Worms and Backyard Composting to Natives and Succulent Dish Gardens. Many people took advantage of the opportunity to Ask A Master Gardener specific diagnostic questions. Some were able to have their questions answered on the spot and were sent home with Extension publications. Master Gardeners were also on hand to support Youth Judging, answering youth exhibitor questions. A Master Gardener held a presentation in the Wisconsin Wonders tent, presenting on Monarchs with approximately 75 in attendance.