At the end of 2019, 84 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 3,917 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $94,003 (Independent Sector). They also reported 1,084 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 5,835 individuals with various outreach projects.
Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility (RYOCF)
RYOCF requested the help of Master Gardeners to teach their young inmates how to grow fruit and veggies on-site. Acting as Garden Mentors, the MGVs worked with inmates and the kitchen and program staff to design and implement a garden master plan. Over the course of the growing season, MGVs provided weekly advisory visits, teaching the inmates about seeds, gardening fundamentals, and the diversity of food as meals. The experience provided inmates with a therapeutic and creative outlet, a sense of ownership, practical opportunities to build employable skills, and a way to give back to their community. Over 1,000 lbs of produce were used by the facility’s kitchen for meal use and an additional 120 lbs were donated to the Racine County Food Bank and Veteran’s Housing and Recovery Program in Union Grove.
The Sturtevant Beautification project is collaborative in every sense of the word. MGVs work with 23 community partners to deliver educational programming across the county and maintain two park gardens, a pollinator garden, and a very popular and well-used community garden. This year, their focus was on compost education as they piloted a food compost program for the Village of Sturtevant and surrounding areas. Working together with partners, they encouraged residents to keep food waste out of landfills and offered alternative options, such as bringing their food waste to a local organic compost site. Compost Crusaders, another local company, will track how much food was diverted from landfills in their target area.
Racine County Visitors Bureau
The MGV project at the Racine County Visitors Bureau is unique among projects because most visitors are from out of state. In fact, for those travelling north, it is usually one of their first stops in Wisconsin, which presents MGVs with the perfect opportunity to make a positive impression of Wisconsin through beautiful gardens and to educate on the state’s native flowers and pollinators. The latter is primary love of the MGVs’: raised beds around the bureau depict the life cycle of the monarch, and nearby signage details their host and nectar plants. If you catch a MGV during a workday, they will gladly take the time to talk to you about Wisconsin’s efforts at pollinator preservation. And as a Google review of the visitor bureau states: “The gardens on the grounds are lovely!”