Happy New Year, Oregon Master Gardeners!

Dear Friends,

During these final few hours of 2020, I’ve been taking the time to organize and prepare data for the annual report of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program (which will be published in mid-late January). Reading through all of the accomplishments and about the resiliency and creativity of Master Gardener volunteers, faculty, and staff during this difficult year makes me so proud to be affiliated with this wonderful community. Our collective work and creativity made a difference across the state, at a time when the gifts of gardening were especially needed.

Perhaps my absolute favorite part of the Master Gardener Program is that it is a community of people who are life-long learners. My entire life, I have been searching for this type of community! I was literally the kid who read the dictionary and every encyclopedia volume in the house, because I loved learning, so much. When I learned about graduate school, and that you could get paid (although not much) to go to school and learn, it seemed like a dream come true. And now, in the Master Gardener Program, I make it a point to learn one new thing, every day.

In case you were wondering, yesterday, I learned that people keep colonies of dermestid beetles to help them clean skulls ~ something which is known as a dermestarium. I also learned that mites are the mortal enemy of dermestid beetles, and can wipe out a colony in a short time period. Finally, I learned that the best ways to keep the mites at bay are to: (1) lower relative humidity to as low as 50% RH, (2) carefully check your skulls before placing them into a dermestid beetle tank to make sure that you’re not inadvertently introducing an ‘intruder’ dermestid, that might be harboring an ‘intruder’ mite under its wings.

I mean, seriously . . . what other job or volunteer program might afford me the opportunity to learn about skull-cleaning beetles?!?!

But personal learning and enrichment is only half of the equation. Sharing knowledge enriches an entire community. And in 2020, Master Gardener volunteers directly reached and taught more than 24,000 people! When COVID restrictions required us to pivot to different ways of reaching and teaching gardeners, Master Gardeners responded in really innovative ways. For example, the Lane County Master Gardeners started researching and writing a ‘Tip of the Week’ segment on Facebook. Across the year, these bits of information about gardening, birds, and houseplants reached 74,560 gardeners. In Linn County, volunteers stepped out of their comfort zone and delivered programming with a prerecorded how-to video on cocoon cleaning coupled with live Q&A sessions on Zoom. And these are just two examples of many innovations that came out of the 2020 programming year.

Megan Wickersham does an amazing job of coordinating the Master Gardener Program in Hood River County. In her annual report of accomplishments, she shared the following note, which I think is broadly applicable across most Master Gardener Programs in the state:

Overall, this unexpected pause in traditional programming allowed for volunteers to refocus on interest areas, join committees to evaluate projects, and take time to identify future improvements needed. Though almost all volunteers indicated that they prefer in-person trainings and activities, closures provided the opportunity for Master Gardeners to learn and develop confidence in new technologies. Volunteers viewed and participated in online trainings they may not have accessed during a traditional year. There was also increased volunteer participation in plant clinics using the online model, as the system allowed Master Gardeners to more easily identify areas of personal interest as well as program needs.” (Megan Wickersham, Hood River County Master Gardener Program Coordinator)

On this final day of 2020, I wish you and all those dear to you a healthy and happy and fulfilling 2021. I hope that your own personal ‘pauses’ afforded you an opportunity to explore and learn and rest in ways that you might not have known you needed. I hope that your garden, or houseplants, and/or bird feeders have provided unexpected moments of joy, insight, peace, and beauty. Most of all, I hope that we can soon gather to learn and laugh together and I THANK YOU for all that you have done in support of gardening and your communities.

Happy New Year.

~Gail

My photo for 2020 seems to do a good job of capturing the mood: I was down for a bit, but not out. May 2021 bring better days for all.

Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series

This monthly zoom series kicks off in January, offering education for the experienced gardener led by OSU horticulture experts from across the state. Take your gardening knowledge to the next level with timely topics from gardening in a changing climate to techniques to extend your season.

WHENThe second Tuesday of the month, 3pm, January-November 2021
WHEREZoom, recordings available to watch anytime
WHOOpen to the public, OSU Extension Master Gardeners receive continuing education credit
HOWTake one or take all. Read more and register here.
COSTFree

Elevated Skills Training for Current Master Gardener Volunteers

Ready to gather new skills to elevate your Master Gardener volunteerism? Through Elevated Skills Trainings, Master Gardeners will learn how to use new tools for garden plant ID, advance your zoom or social media skills, and learn about community science within the Master Gardener program, as just a few examples. We’ll be using an online training tool named Thinkific, which is the same platform we’ve used to deliver the COVID Safety Training and the Celebrate Master Gardener Week. Each week, a new lesson will open for you to work through, on your own time, and at your own pace. Each lesson is optional: you can take whichever ones interest you. Once a lesson is open it will remain open for the rest of 2021, meaning you can take it at any time.

WHENlate January-late March 2021
WHEREonline learning platform Thinkific
WHOCurrent Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees)
HOWTake one or take all.
COSTFree

Currently Scheduled

The schedule, below, represents the day that lesson will open for your use. Dates are subject to change. Any changes will be noted here.

January 22nd: Overview of Thinkific and the 2021 Elevated MG Skills Training
January 29th: Zoom Basics
January 29th: Advanced Zoom
February 5th: iNaturalist for Master Gardener Volunteers
February 5th: Garden Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plants Database
February 12th: Best Practices for Online Plant Clinic
February 12th: Using the Extension Client Contact Database to Improve Plant Clinic Responses
February 19th: Taking Your Master Gardener Social Media to the Next Level
February 26th: Best Practices in Youth Gardening Programs
February 26th: Superpower Your Educational Garden
March 5th: Community Science and the Master Gardener Program
March 12th: Showcase Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Efforts in Other States
March 12th: OSU Extension’s Diversity Training for Volunteers
March 19th: Building Community Partnerships to Broaden Outreach
March 25th: Recipes for a Collaborative Community

Read more about plans for 2021, including additional event and trainings.

OSU Extension Master Gardener Program and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration

As part of the University-wide 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and staff are invited ahead of time to read, view and reflect upon materials and prompts of inclusion and identity as gardeners and Master Gardeners. These include:

A moderated online Zoom discussion will follow.

WHENJanuary 18th, 7pm
WHEREZoom online
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers
HOWRegister here
COSTFree

You are also invited to attend the morning’s keynote address to be delivered by Dr. Angela Davis for Oregon State University’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. University-wide celebration. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.

Read more about OSU Extension Master Gardener plans for 2021, including additional event and trainings.

Getting ready for 2021: the OSU Extension Master Gardener program

As 2020 comes to a close, we are glad to be looking forward and seeing light in the new year and path ahead. Gardeners are resilient, and that includes OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers. So let’s look at an overview of what’s coming to the OSU Extension Master Gardener program in 2021.


Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series

This monthly Zoom series kicks off in January, offering education led by OSU horticulture experts for the experienced gardener. Take your gardening knowledge to the next level with timely topics ranging from gardening in a changing climate to techniques to extend your season.

WHENThe second Tuesday of the month, 3pm, January-November 2021
WHEREZoom, with recordings available for you to view anytime
WHOOpen to the public, Master Gardener volunteers receive continuing education credit
HOWTake one or take all. More information, including the list of classes here.
COSTFree

Elevated Skills Training for Current Master Gardener Volunteers

Ready to gather new skills to elevate your Master Gardener volunteerism? Through the Elevated Skills Trainings, Master Gardeners will learn how to use new tools for plant ID, advance your zoom or social media skills, and learn about community science within the Master Gardener program, are just a few examples. We’ll be using an online training tool named Thinkific, which is the same platform we’ve used to deliver the COVID Safety Training and the Celebrate Master Gardener Week. Each week, a new lesson will open for you to work through, on your own time, and at your own pace. Each lesson is optional: you can take whichever ones interest you. Once a lesson is open it will remain open for the rest of 2021, meaning you can take it at any time during the year.

WHENlate January-late March 2021
WHEREonline learning platform, Thinkific
WHOCurrent Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees)
HOWTake one or take all. More information, including the list of classes here.
COSTFree

OSU Extension Master Gardeners and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration

As part of the University-wide 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and staff are invited to read, view and reflect upon materials and prompts of inclusion and identity as gardeners and Master Gardeners. A moderated online Zoom discussion will follow.

WHENJanuary 18th, 7pm
WHEREZoom online
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers, staff, faculty
HOWRegister online. More information here.
COSTFree

Dr. Angela Davis will be delivering the keynote address for Oregon State University’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. University-wide celebration. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.


The Culture of Gardening

Let’s explore what gardening means to different people and groups, and how to grow and use plants from a variety of cultures. This new series of blog posts and talks will debut in late spring 2021, with a keynote address by horticulturist Abra Lee on the history of African American gardens and gardeners.

WHENMay 18th + more dates in the series
WHEREZoom online, with recordings available, and this blog
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the gardening public
HOWMore details to be announced.
COSTFree

Mini-College for OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

The Oregon Master Gardener Association is organizing the first all online Mini-College, coming this summer. Plans include an array of classes and workshops for gardeners of all levels.

WHENJuly 16th-17th
WHEREonline
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the gardening public
HOWMore details to come.

We will post more information and details as they become available. We hope to see many of you in 2021!

Community Science Projects and OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Community science projects, like climate or invasive species tracking, are reliant on observant volunteers, on the ground, able to report back findings. Think about how the Asian Giant Hornet was recently discovered in Washington State: Whatcom County residents served as the eyes and ears alongside scientists to spot, locate, and eventually destroy the nest.

In 2016, we developed guidelines to encourage OSU Master Gardener Volunteers to engage in community science projects and to have those hours count towards volunteer hours. These guidelines require that community science projects must:

  1. Align with the Master Gardener educational mission of discovering and disseminating research-based gardening information,
  2. Advance one of both of the flagship programs of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program: sustainable gardening and/or home and community food production,
  3. Involve participation on one or more levels of the community science typology.  These levels are (from least to most involvement): crowdsourcing, distributed intelligence, participatory science, collaborative science.

The following are Oregon and national community science projects which are approved for indirect volunteer hours with the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program as of 12/2020. You may count your hours as the actual time spent collecting and submitting data.  When reporting volunteer hours associated with participation in approved community science projects, volunteers should report in the category of ‘Citizen Science’ (indirect volunteer hours).

Projects approved for OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer hours

Project NameDiscipline(s)Sponsoring Organization(s)Website
Oregon Season Trackerclimate monitoring, phenologyOregon State University Extensionhttps://extension.oregonstate.edu/ost
Vegetable Variety TrialshorticultureOregon State University Extensionemail: brooke.edmunds@oregonstate.edu
Forest Pest Detectorsentomology, invasive speciesOregon State Universityhttp://pestdetector.forestry.oregonstate.edu/
eButterflyentomologyOregon State Universityhttp://www.e-butterfly.org/
Oregon Native Bee Atlasentomology, pollinatorsOregon State University, Oregon Department of Agriculturehttps://extension.oregonstate.edu/bee-atlas
The Hazelnut ProjectagronomyOregon State Universityhttps://www.arborday.org/programs/hazelnuts/
Project Budburstplant phenologyNational Ecological Observatory Networkhttp://budburst.org/
Great Backyard Bird CountornithologyNational Audubon Societyhttp://gbbc.birdcount.org/
Hummingbirds at HomeornithologyNational Audubon Societyhttp://www.hummingbirdsathome.org/
iNaturalistbiodiversityCalifornia Academy of Scienceshttp://www.inaturalist.org/
    
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS)climate monitoringNOAA, Oregon State Universityhttps://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=or
A Tree’s Lifeclimate change, urban forestryNorth Carolina State Universityhttp://ecoipm.org/a-trees-life/

Want to know if another community science project qualifies for Master Gardener volunteer hours?  Please check with your county MG Coordinator.