The Master Gardener Program is attempting to align all projects with the four Educational Priorities set by UW-Extension. By aligning with their reporting areas, we can more readily communicate how MGVs are helping to further Extension’s goals and benefiting communities statewide.
Here are the four areas (“buckets”) that Extension asks us to report in, and how they relate to MGV projects (click on ribbons to expand):
Stronger Economies focuses on workforce development and support, family financial capabilities, and locally supportive workforce and business climate.
- MGVs don’t work directly with commercial horticulture operations, so we have to look elsewhere.
- MGVs directly answer gardening questions from the public and host public education events, which may lead to purchase of plant and pest management materials from local commercial operations, or the hiring of appropriate green industry services, such as arborist or landscape maintenance.
- Indirectly, MGVs facilitate vocational programs to audiences (youth, incarcerated, people with limited abilities) with horticulture skills and/or soft-skills to maintain employment.
- Indirectly, MGVs participate in beautification efforts in parks and commercial areas, resulting in increased property values and business.
- MGV bus trips and home garden tours support the growing garden-tourism industry.
- Possible themes for the annual report: The beauty of horticulture, money doesn’t grow on trees (or does it?)
Food Safety, Security and Health focuses on the availability and access to nutritious, affordable and safe food, and decision-making regarding healthy behavior and access to medical care.
- MGVs directly answer gardening questions from the public and host public education events, which may lead to growing own fruits and vegetables and appropriate and/or reduced pesticide usage.
- MGVs grow food and help others grow food in community gardens, donating much to area food pantries.
- MGVs promote gardening and participate in gardening programs with youth, adults, elders, incarcerated, and people with limited abilities to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
- MGVs do NOT give recommendation of plants for medicinal purposes; MGVs do promote good health through the growing and consumption of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
- Possible themes for the annual report: hunger prevention/food security, teaching others about food gardening, community gardening
Resilient & Productive Environments focuses on the protection and sustainable management of built and natural environments.
- MGVs directly answer questions from or give presentations to the public and host public education events, which increases awareness of and potentially improved eradication of invasive species, protection of pollinators, reduced pesticide usage, and other aspects of environmental issues.
- MGVs plant trees and remove invasive plant species.
- MGVs participate in citizen science or biocontrol projects.
- Possible themes for the annual report: Environmental stewardship, invasive species
Thriving Youth, Families, and Communities focuses on the conditions that support and enhance community members’ growth and support, civic engagement and community cohesion.
- MGVs directly answer gardening questions from the public and host public education events, which may engage all members of the family, convert areas into usable green space, preserve green infrastructure in communities, and more.
- MGVs participate in gardening projects in parks, libraries, schools, and other public locations to define a sense of community.
- Possible themes for the annual report: gardening with youth, educating the next generation of gardeners, greening communities, helping families grow together
By no means is what’s above an exhaustive list of ideas or possibilities. Nor do most projects fit cleanly into a single bucket– that’s why horticulture and the MG program is amazing! So many different things can be accomplished by simply gardening. One of the things that being MG is different than a garden club is by working to address the bigger issues, and collaboratively discussing the impact of everyone’s’ efforts.
See the original posting of the four educational priorities on the 2015 Cooperative Extension State Conference webpage.