Master Gardener Program Update: August 7, 2020

Status of Face to Face Master Gardener Activities

It has been 136 days since OSU effectively shut down all face-to-face activities, in response to Governor Kate Brown’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ executive order. As I take stock of Oregon’s Master Gardener Program, today, I can see that we are gradually and cautiously returning to limited face-to-face activities. Please remember, that all face-to-face programming and non-essential travel during the Modified Operations phase must be approved by your regional director, via the Extension Modified Travel and Programming Request form. Please make sure to cc me on your requests, so that I can continue to keep track of the evolving landscape of the statewide Master Gardener Program.

To date, here are the face-to-face Master Gardener activities that have been approved for county Extension offices in the Modified Operations phase are listed below. Please note that these activities represent low-density, outdoor activities, with the exception of low density Plant Clinics in select Extension offices.

  • A trial run of a virtual plant sale has been approved, for potential scaling up of a fall, public, virtual plant sale. Master Gardeners are hosting a ‘closed’ sale, open only to other Master Gardeners, to try and identify and work out potential kinks in protocol that may be issues for a larger, public sale.
  • There are two Citizen Science projects that have been approved. In one project, select Master Gardeners will travel to help our state partners monitor invasive pests. In the second project, Master Gardeners will travel to an OSU research farm to help evaluate plant that are part of butterfly bush research project.
  • One hybrid training opportunity has been approved. Master Gardeners will participate in self-guided plant identification activities, and will ‘meet’ via Zoom for a follow up session.
  • Master Gardeners are working in Extension office plant clinics in two counties. Plant clinics at markets, fairs, retail stores, and other high density public venues are still off-limits, at this point.
  • Master Gardeners are working in demonstration and community gardens across the state. Unlike the Restricted Operations phase, when only activities that were focused on critical services for food security and/or facilities maintenance, that approvals have been expanded for counties in the Modified Operations phase to include maintenance of compost piles and worm bins.

Creating Opportunities for Social Interactions and Celebrations

On yesterday’s weekly Zoom call, we discussed how we might thank and celebrate our Master Gardener volunteers, while also adhering to public health and safety guidelines. Here is what we came up with:

  • Governor’s Proclamation of Master Gardener Week in Oregon, November 2-6 2020
  • Celebratory / Thank You Video featuring OSU administrators, faculty, staff. We’ll be asking high level administrators (Anita and Alan) to deliver messages of thanks. We will cut in video of MG faculty and staff, holding up signs with different thank you messages, and points of celebration/resilience. Will ask LeAnn to help storyboard. Am seeking video production assistance from OSU Faculty Multimedia Services.
  • Annual State of the MG Program Address (to be delivered by Gail, as a webinar)
  • A three-film Gardening Film Festival. Gardeners can live stream films at home. We will arrange for Q&A with directors, as a Zoom webinar or meeting. Potential Films: The Love Bugs (Entomology Focus),  Land Grab or Plant this Movie (Urban Ag Focus), and a third movie that should have a plant focus.
  • The week concludes on November 6, with the final Board Meeting of the Oregon Master Gardener Association.

Upcoming MG Coordinators Zoom Meeting Topics

  • August 13th: 2021 MG Training Plan, including plan for 2020 trainees who could not complete training.
  • August 20th: Developing MG Program Priorities & Values (including workshopping DEI training scenario that we did not get to on July 30th)

August 27th: Open to Your Suggestions, but could be focused on planning and progress for the 2020 Oregon Master Gardener week celebration.

Does Your Master Gardener Training Class Schedule Meet State Standards?

In 2008, the Home Horticulture Working Group voted on and approved curricular standards for annual Master Gardener training for new volunteers. As you start to put your schedule of classes together for 2020, please take a moment to review the standards, and be sure that your class content aligns with current guidance.

Training must consist of at least 40 hours of training time. This time can include time in class, time spent on online course modules, and time spent on practical or hands-on activities.

More detail on the suggested content of each class can be found in the Master Gardener Coordinators Manual section on Course Content.

OSU Faculty and Staff who teach classes: please take a moment to update your information and preferences for the 2020 teaching season in the Instructor Database in Box. You might also want to check out the Basic Training Resources folder in Box. Both of these are in our shared Master Gardener Program folder in Box. You need to have an OSU email in order to access these resources. If you can not access these resources, please contact Gail.

Required Courses: In order to be certified as an OSU Master Gardener volunteer, all trainees must complete each of these three classes.

  • The OSU Master Gardener Program
  • Understanding Pesticides
  • Basic Botany

Plant Problem DiagnosisChoose at least 2 of the following classes.

  • Diagnostics
  • Insect ID
  • Plant Pathology
  • Weed ID and Management
  • Vertebrate pest management
  • Resources for Master Gardeners

Sustainable Gardening: Choose at least 2 of the following classes.

  • Soils and Fertilizers
  • Compost
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Sustainable Landscape Design
  • Organic Gardening
  • Gardening for Wildlife
  • Rain Gardens
  • Water Quality
  • Waterwise Gardening
  • Native Plants
  • Invasive Species

Backyard and Community Food ProductionChoose at least 2 of the following classes

  • Organic Gardening
  • Vegetable Gardening
  • Small Fruits
  • Home Orchards
  • Herbs
  • Container Gardening
  • Compost

Elective ClassesChoose as many classes as are necessary to round out curricular content.

  • Herbaceous Ornamental Plants
  • Houseplants
  • Lawns
  • Localized Gardening (Coastal, Valley, High Desert, etc.)
  • Pruning
  • Woody Ornamental Plants

Home Horticulture Working Group Retreat

The Home Horticulture Working Group received an OSU Extension Innovation Grant, to support a 2-day retreat for our group. The intention of the retreat is to:

 . . . create the time and space for deep conversations on future iterations of Oregon’s EMG program. We will review Oregon’s EMG program with an eye towards identifying structural changes that could be made to improve the experience for both coordinators running the program, and current and future EMG volunteers. An anticipated end result of this work is the development of a shared vision of inclusivity for the program, specific action items to make Oregon’s EMG program relevant and useful to a broader audience, and a potential redesign of the course, better suited for both coordinators and participants.

You can access the entire proposal, with full details, here.

The first step in planning our retreat is to choose a time and location for the retreat. Please note that we think we have enough funding to pay for lodging for about 20 rooms. If we get more than 20 folks who need lodging, We have two options that we are considering:

Please visit THIS SURVEY to let the planning committee know if you will be able to participate in the retreat, and then rank your preference for date and location. Please also let us know if you will need a hotel room.

National Extension Master Gardener Coordinators’ Conference

Oregon sent a fairly large contingent of Extension professionals to the 2018 Extension Master Gardener Coordinators’ Conference, which was hosted by the University of Wisconsin.

A lot of the conference content has been posted for viewing, if you were not able to make the event, or if you’re wanting to revisit the conference. Of special interest to Oregon’s MG Coordinators are two presentations.

  1. Michelle Sager’s talk on ‘Dissecting Controversial Issues in Master Gardener Training. (12 minutes and 52 seconds)
  2. The Oregon group’s take-home messages from the conference, and their 2020 vision for Oregon’s Master Gardener Program. (about 10 minutes)

Both presentations are well worth the time!