EMG Volunteer Service Hour Requirements

I’ve been getting questions about volunteer service hour categories. Thus, I thought it might be useful to write a blog post about the difference between educational service hours (direct and indirect) and support hours.

Volunteer Service Hours which support the educational mission of the Extension Master Gardener Program are given highest priority.  Direct and indirect educational hours should constitute at least 50% of a Master Gardener’s  required volunteer service hours in their initial year and 50% of a Master Gardener’s required volunteer service hours in their recertification years (i.e. at least 10 hours).

What are Direct Educational Hours?

Master Gardener activities that have the potential to directly increase knowledge, change attitudes or change behaviors in ways that promote sustainable gardening.  A Master Gardener must be current on their certification, in order to participate in activities that qualify for direct educational hours.

    • Plant Clinic (no matter the venue):  plant clinic is the venue through which Master Gardeners receive gardening questions and provide high-quality recommendations to the general public.  Typical venues for plant clinic include:  the Extension office (walk-in, phone or email), Ask an Expert, farmer’s markets, Master Gardener events (e.g. plant sales, fairs), other community events.
    • Instructor (at a conference, seminar series, Master Gardener training, speakers bureau, etc.):  includes the time it takes to research, prepare and deliver the presentation.
    • Educational Gardens (demonstration gardens, youth garden, school garden, prison garden, garden tour): Teaching a class in an educational garden, leading a tour, preparing signage or educational displays, or other educational activities may count towards direct service hours.
    • Writing an Educational Article:  in a Master Gardener newsletter, for a local newsletter, or collaborating with an OSU Extension faculty member to write an Extension publication. Includes the time needed to research and write the article.
    • Other approved activities: as determined by your local Master Gardener coordination, in the context of current OSU Extension Master Gardener guidelines and policy

What are Indirect Education Hours?

Indirect educational hours is time spent on activities facilitate or support the efforts of volunteer educators.  The volunteer is not directly teaching others (via plant clinic recommendations or gardening talks or demonstrations), but is supporting the efforts of others who are serving as direct educators. Examples include:
    • Educational Event Planning (conference, seminar series, MG training)
    • Master Gardener Training Class Mentor:  assisting with the annual Master Gardener training course.
    • Educational Garden Maintenance:  Educational gardens require basic upkeep in maintenance, in order to be effectively used in educational outreach.  Thus, garden maintenance and upkeep activities might qualify for direct educational volunteer service hours if work in the garden supports an educational project or program, and if garden maintenance and upkeep activities are not the major focus of activity in the garden.  If garden maintenance and upkeep becomes the major focus of activity, it is time carefully examine the project, and re-calibrate back to the educational mission and focus of the Master Gardener Program.  If you do not host at least two public outreach events, annually, in the garden, it likely does not qualify as an educational garden. Volunteer service hours in gardens that are not educational gardens do not count as indirect educational hours.
    • Other Approved Activities:  as determined by your local Master Gardener coordination, in the context of current OSU Extension Master Gardener guidelines and policy

What are Support Hours?

These are hours spent on Master Gardener activities that are not focused on educational outreach. Instead, support activities help to support the mission of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program. Examples of support activities include:

    • Fundraiser (plant sale, book sales, etc.)
    • Extension Office Support:  filing, database management, photocopies, or other duties related to the Extension office
    • MG Association:  including serving as an officer, board member or in an appointed position in a MG chapter or in the Oregon Master Gardener Association
    • Other Approved Activities:  as determined by your local Master Gardener coordination, in the context of current OSU Extension Master Gardener guidelines and policy
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