Guide to Being a Master Gardener Volunteer: revised publication is now out

The quintessential guidebook for being an OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer has been updated and modernized. It’s available to read online and download and features all things Master Gardener, including our connection to OSU, the priorities of the program, and policies and guidelines. Access it here.

What does it mean to recertify? What are the continuing education requirements of Master Gardeners? How do we provide gardening recommendations to the general public? What is the relationship between OSU and the county-based Master Gardener Associations?

You’ll find the answers to these questions, and many more, in the updated guidebook, plus links to even more background and items to read. The new version is a more nimble, modernized version, and can easily be updated as needed. Happy reading!

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3 Replies to “Guide to Being a Master Gardener Volunteer: revised publication is now out”

  1. In reading through the handbook, I focused on recertification requirements as a continuing master gardener. (I’ve been a master gardener since 2009.)

    What this document doesn’t cover adequately is what qualifies as a volunteer activity for recertification. I have had many volunteer hours rejected during the last couple years because they no longer meet the requirements for recertification.

    Here’s just one example. I work with the Albany and Corvallis Parks and Recreation departments to plant trees in both cities. These activities do not qualify for recertification, though they did from about 2009 to 2020. After that date, planting trees as a volunteer activity was ruled ineligible for recertification.

    Who decides what qualifies and what doesn’t? Why do the recertification rules change (with zero input from MG volunteers) from year to year? I was so disappointed in this recertification requirement that I quit the program entirely, though I later rejoined.

    This handbook should have spelled out in precise detail exactly what volunteer hours qualify and what hours get rejected. One would think that planting trees to shade our cities would count, but someone in senior leadership says they do not.

    Truthfully, I’ve limited my MG hours due to this issue over recertification. I’ve focused my volunteer activities with the Oregon Master Naturalists instead.

    Can you explain in more detail why planting trees to cool our cities, prevent urban street flooding, and support a large number of species from insects to birds no longer qualifies as a MG activity?

    Thank you.

  2. I commend you Paul, for your commitment to planting trees and doing important work addressing climate change. Thank you. Master Gardener volunteers are community garden educators. On page 13 of the handbook, it says:

    “Your county program coordinator will help you determine which projects are eligible for volunteer hours. Each county offers different kinds of volunteer projects that respond to community needs and that are in alignment with the program priorities. The goal is for each Master Gardener’s talents to be used effectively to benefit the gardening community. All volunteer programs need to be aligned with the OSU Extension Master Gardener program Priorities (see above). The county program coordinator makes the final decision on eligible projects. Each county offers different volunteer projects. These projects have developed over time in response to local needs. Contact your county program coordinator for a list of projects available in your county.”

    It then goes on to list examples of gardening education examples, and program support examples.

    Many Master Gardeners serve their community on their own time working in local gardens and public spaces, but that work of labor without an educational component, is not necessarily in support of education of the public, and they’re not doing it for hours to count towards their Master Gardener volunteerism. There can be a fine line with this, and that’s why you see repeatedly mentioned in the handbook to work with your county program coordinator. I know you and your county program coordinator have spoken about this on multiple occasions, and that the work of planting trees is a wonderful community service, but not in support of the educational mission of the MG program.

    Thank you again for all of the work that you do, and if you’d like to discuss any of this further, give me a call at 503-701-1044. -LeAnn

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