Hosting the International Master Gardener Conference can be a scary proposition. When choosing a site for the 2017 IMGC, we needed to find a place that could hold 1,000+ people (we’re hoping to attract 1,200), but we also needed to do our best to keep costs down.
We settled on the Oregon Convention Center, primarily because it is the only site in Portland that could fully meet our space needs. But, the City of Portland also has a wonderful program that helps organizations bring business to Portland, via conferences held at the Oregon Convention Center. Without this program, the cost of hosting the conference at the Oregon Convention Center would be beyond our means.
But, even though we the cost of renting the Convention Center space is drastically discounted, we still have to find a way to bear the costs of: speaker fees, speaker mileage and travel costs, catering, audio-visual support, trade show set up and break down, registration services. All of these are expensive, and we are doing our best to provide the highest quality possible, while keeping costs low for attendees.
One approach to keeping quality high and costs low is to find sponsors ~ businesses, non-profit organizations, or even individuals ~ who believe in what we’re trying to do. By collaborating with sponsors, we’re in a much better position to plan and implement the type of conference we want to host.
I’ve been beating the bushes over the past few months, to try and drum up sponsorship support for the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference, and the early response has been phenomenal.
Ball Horticultural, a perennial supporter of the International Master Gardener Conference, was the very first to sign on as a sponsor. Ball continues their generous support of the International Master Gardener Conference, with a pledge of $10,000 to help defray conference costs and to keep registration fees as low as possible.
The Oregon State University Department of Horticulture and the College of Agricultural Sciences were the next two to sign on as sponsors ~ pledging $1,000 each. At a time when state budgets have been slashed and every penny spent is carefully considered, I’m so proud that my Department and my College have stepped forward to say ‘we know the IMGC is important, and we want to support what you’re doing’.
But the largest response has come from Oregon’s Master Gardeners, themselves. The Oregon Master Gardener Association and 10 of it’s chapters (the Clackamas county, Jackson county, Benton county, Multnomah county, Marion county, Central Oregon, Central Gorge, Lincoln, Tillamook county, Clatsop county and Lane county Master Gardener Associations) have together pledged or already donated $34,000 to support the International Master Gardener Program! Master Gardeners Sherry Sheng (and husband Spike Wadsworth), Jo Ann Bones, Marcia Sherry (and husband Bob) and Larry and Giuli Sutton have also pledged or donated their individual support of the International Master Gardener for a combined $9,000. The generosity of Oregon’s Master Gardeners will truly help us to host high quality speakers that we couldn’t otherwise afford to bring to Oregon, and I am truly grateful for their support. If you are planning on attending the 2017 IMGC, please take the time to thank Oregon’s Master Gardeners for their strong and meaningful support of the conference.
Thank you to Ball, Oregon State University and Oregon’s Master Gardener Associations and volunteers for your support of the 2017 IMGC! We are doing our best to build a conference that will make you proud!
We are still actively seeking sponsors who value the community services of Master Gardeners, internationally, and who support the continuing education afforded to Master Gardeners through this conference. Sponsorship donations are managed by the Agricultural Research Foundation, a non-profit with 501(c)3 status from the Internal Revenue Service, and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring the 2017 IMGC, please visit our sponsorship page for more information. There, you can access the information sheet we’ve developed for potential sponsors, as well as the sponsorship pledge/payment form.