Extension Operations Update

After a very long year, we are starting to see an easing of COVID-related restrictions! And, we’re planning to offer face-to-face Master Gardener training classes in 2022!

As of June 1, 2021, OSU Extension made several changes to operations, that will make it easier for face-to-face Master Gardener programs to occur. These updates specifically apply to Oregon counties that are at low or moderate risk of COVID transmission. Counties that are at high risk of COVID transmission still have some restrictions in place.

  • Travel for Master Gardener Activities: The formerly used In-person and travel authorization form will no longer be needed for local travel of volunteers or employees. Out of state travel for MG related work by volunteers or employees continues to need approval, as has always been the case.
    • This operations update does not broadly apply to most Master Gardener volunteers. During COVID restrictions, we did have a few volunteers who travelled to monitor invasive species traps with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. But, most Master Gardener volunteers do not ‘travel for Master Gardener activities’. Travelling to the Extension office or to a demonstration garden is considered ‘commuting’ and not ‘travelling for work’.
  • Master Gardener Programming: Master Gardener Programs and volunteer activities in Lower and Moderate Risk Counties no longer needs formal approval by an Extension Regional Director. Please note, however, that Master Gardener Programming and Volunteer Activities should be planned in close cooperation and communication with your Master Gardener Coordinator. All activities must be planned using the guidelines of the OSU Extension Activity Matrix (see the file, at the end of this post). Your Master Gardener Coordinator can help ensure that programs and volunteerism are being organized according to the Activity Matrix.
  • Counties at High Risk must continue to use the High-Risk Programming Approval Form for Master Gardener Programs and Volunteer Activities. These submissions are reviewed by an Extension Regional Director.
  • Face Coverings: If physical distancing can be maintained, face coverings are no longer required outdoors at OSU and during programming. However, if the setting is crowded, and/or if physical distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings are required. Face coverings continue to be required indoors at all OSU locations and during Extension programming, regardless of vaccination status. OSU’s physical distancing policy continues to require compliance with all current OHA guidelines and OSHA guidelines. Gatherings – including indoors – are allowed, but should be planned and executed using the Extension Activity Matrix. This includes the allowance for in-person meetings and activities.
  • COVID-19 Training: COVID-19 training for employees and volunteers will no longer be required.

I’m looking forward to the day when we can all meet in person, around our shared love of plants, gardening, insects, birds, fresh vegetables, shade trees, flowers, or whatever it is that excites you about the Program.

~Gail

Help Us Plan Our Program Across the Next Few Years

The words 'What do you want to know about growing plants? We want to hear from you.' is above a bunch of cherry tomatoes, on a blue background. Several of the tomatoes are arranged in the form of a question mark.
Help us develop garden education programs that meet your needs.

Oregon State University Extension wants to support you getting the kind of information you want and need for growing plants in a home, community garden and landscape setting. Help us craft our future offerings: take a moment to participate in our survey.  https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1RH4CHIopoHN9XM

Consider sharing this survey with your gardening friends and neighbors. Our goal is to hear from at least 5,000 Oregon gardeners.

Master Gardener Certifications in 2021 and new Master Gardener Trainings in 2022: questions and answers as of May 18, 2021

“Will OSU Extension be hosting trainings for new Master Gardener volunteers in 2022?”  

Yes. Counties with Master Gardener Programs are planning for the 2022 Master Gardener trainings. Typically, applications for new Master Gardener trainees are available each fall, and the classes begin in January or February of the following year. Specific dates may vary across counties. Check with your local Master Gardener program for details. 

“I took the Master Gardener training class in 2020, but COVID disrupted my ability to complete my certification. Can I still be certified?” 

Yes! We realize that COVID has disrupted personal lives and much of our in-person programming. Many counties were not able to hold face-to-face volunteer activities, and many face-to-face volunteer activities are still on hold. Most counties have lowered the number of required volunteer service hours to 40 hours, to help the class of 2020 Master Gardener trainees complete their service hour requirement. Your sum total volunteer service hours accrued during 2020, 2021, and into 2022 will count towards meeting the service hour requirement and Master Gardener certification. Be alert to your local county program updates as volunteer activities are able to resume. We appreciate your patience and continued participation in the Master Gardener training program. 

Keep note of your volunteer service activities. Volunteer service hours must be reported to your local Master Gardener Extension program for them to count towards Master Gardener certification. Most OSU Extension Master Gardener Programs (except for the Portland Metro counties) use the online Volunteer Reporting System for reporting and tracking volunteer hours. The Portland Metro Area Counties of Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah use a different system, and will provide a link to report your hours in the fall. 

In 2021, you may have also participated in continuing education programs for your Master Gardener work. These may have included webinars (such as the Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series) or online classes (such as the Elevated Skills training for Master Gardener volunteers). Or, you may have participated in other continuing education classes, through your local Master Gardener Program. We hope these programs have enriched and supported you in your new role as community garden educators.  

Please check with your local Master Gardener coordinator if you have questions about reporting service hours or continuing education units. 

“I took the Master Gardener training in 2020 and completed both my coursework and my volunteer service hour requirement. Can I be certified as a Master Gardener volunteer?” 

Yes! Individuals who completed their coursework and volunteer service hours will receive (or may have already received) their Master Gardener badge and certificate of completion. Completing your Master Gardener training and certification is a HUGE accomplishment, and particularly so during the challenges of 2020 and 2021. Congratulations, and thank you! We look forward to celebrating your accomplishment. 

“I am a current Master Gardener volunteer but have not been able to recertify during COVID. What do I need to do?” 

Master Gardeners who were certified for the 2020 calendar year will maintain their certification in 2021 and into 2022. We understand that COVID has disrupted our lives in so many ways, including the ability to complete annual recertification requirements (a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service and a minimum 10 hours of continuing education units per year). 

Even if you have not been able to complete annual recertification requirements, we encourage you to report any volunteer service hours and/or continuing education units that you have been able to complete. 

“Do I need to report my volunteer service and continuing education hours?” 

Yes. Reporting your Master Gardener Program service hours and continuing education is very important. It helps us to know that you are still interested in engaging with the Master Gardener Program, and pursuing your Master Gardener certification. As we open Master Gardener certification opportunities to new trainees in 2022, your reporting helps us to ensure that you will be first in line for volunteer service opportunities. Reporting also helps us to communicate the impact and value of the program to local, university, and statewide decision makers, and to make the case for funding in counties with active Master Gardener volunteers. 

Please check with your local Master Gardener coordinator if you have questions about reporting service hours or continuing education units. 

“I heard that OSU will require vaccines for faculty, staff, and students. What about volunteers? Do I need to be vaccinated and/or report that I have been vaccinated?” 

OSU Extension Service encourages all community members to get vaccinated.  The more people are vaccinated the better the outlook for getting back to community volunteer activities. For more information please see: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/community-vitality/coronavirus.  

At this time there is not an expectation to require volunteers to be vaccinated. However, administrators are expected to have more discussion about this over the next few weeks. If new details are added to the OSU vaccination requirement, that affect Master Gardener volunteers, we will be sure to communicate them as soon as we know more. 

“Given the CDC’s latest guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated, do I have to wear a face covering or mask while participating in face to face Master Gardener volunteer activities?” 

In short, and at this time, the answer is ‘yes’. The information, below, is excerpted from a recent email from OSU’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dan Larsen: 

Oregon State University must continue to adhere to current Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) guidelines and rules requiring the use of face coverings. 
   
You likely know that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced Thursday that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face covering or physically distance, except where required by state or other jurisdictions’ laws, rules and regulations. Gov. Kate Brown followed the CDC’s announcement Thursday sharing that businesses in Oregon could stop requiring face coverings and social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated. 
  
We do share your excitement in the updates provided by Governor Brown and the CDC, and we are eager to support those who are fully vaccinated in being able to engage in activities with fewer requirements and restrictions. For now, we must wait, as OSU’s Safety & Success policies must be in alignment with existing Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) guidance, as well as OHA and HECC guidance for higher education, and OHSA workplace rules
   
Additionally, once we receive updated guidance on how OSU can extend the benefits of reduced face covering requirements and restrictions, we will thoughtfully evaluate our current policies and enforcement measures, and will communicate any changes and updates with employees, students and stakeholders. We do anticipate that some environments within the university may continue to require use of face coverings through the end of spring term. 

Dan Larson email to OSU Community Members on May 14, 2021.

Master Gardener Program Response to President Alexander’s Resignation

Dear OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Staff,

Over the past few weeks, information regarding Oregon State University President F King Alexander’s leadership over Title IX at Louisiana State University and subsequent information shared about Title IX and the handling of sexual violence and misconduct has been shared through the issuing of a report by the Husch Blackwell law firm. The OSU Board of Trustees has engaged and heard from extensive public comments and communications, conducted public discussions with President Alexander, and has issued a probationary period while further information is gathered. On Friday, March 19th, the Faculty Senate called for a vote of no confidence in President Alexander and called upon him to resign. The OSU Board of Trustees announced President Alexander’s offer of resignation Tuesday, March 23rd.

This has resulted in an array of emotions, questions, and concerns from many within the OSU community. During this tumultuous time, in what has already been an extremely tumultuous past year, I look to our gardening community of volunteers for grounding and clarity.

This is a good time to reflect upon the guiding values of the Master Gardener program:

  • We are connected to Oregon State University, and use both science and local knowledge to inform our community engagement, educational outreach, and horticultural expertise. We strive to make the resources of Oregon State University accessible to all and inspire and encourage lifelong curiosity and learning through continued scientific exploration and discovery.
  • We are connected to our local communities, and their needs drive the work of our program. We are inclusive, where everyone is welcome, respected, valued and supported. We know that collaboration and partnership with our communities, community organizations, and neighbors make us stronger and that together, we create positive change.
  • We are connected to our earth, and strive for stewardship and sustainability through horticultural best practices and a conscientious approach to volunteer work in alignment with our program priorities. We aim to improve not only the lives of the people within our communities, but also the land which sustains us, and future generations.
  • We are driven by a sense of fun, wonder and curiosity for the natural world and a commitment of service to our local communities.

At the heart of the Master Gardener program are our volunteers, and your health and safety are our highest commitment. More than 75% of Master Gardener volunteers are women. Many of our volunteers come to the program from school experiences and careers in the workforce prior to the landmark passage of the Title IX civil rights law in 1972. Events and news like what we’ve heard at OSU these past few weeks can bring up many painful memories and personal experiences, both for victims and their family and friends.

OSU Extension and the Master Gardener program unequivocally stand in support of survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment. We are committed to creating safe spaces for our colleagues and the youth, adults and communities we serve and work with, including our volunteers. We will not tolerate discrimination, misogyny, harm or violence of any sort within our program and the communities in which we serve.

If you experience or witness sexual misconduct, discrimination, harassment, bullying, or retaliation in any capacity as an OSU Extension Master Gardener, please report it to OSU’s Equal Opportunity and Access Office: https://eoa.oregonstate.edu/. Your local Master Gardener coordinator, and myself, are personal resources for reporting as well.

You’ll hear more from us in the coming week as we look to the future and see glimmers of hope for returning to our work together. The daffodils have begun to bloom here in the Willamette Valley, and I know spring is here.

More soon,

Gail Langellotto | Statewide Coordinator, OSU Extension Master Gardener Program | Professor of Horticulture, Oregon State University

Bee hoovering near a daffodil. Photo credit: Betsy Hartley.

2020 Master Gardener Impact Report

I am beyond proud to share with you the 2020 Impact Report of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program. Working on the report, and reading about the real difference that Master Gardeners made in their communities during a difficult year made my heart swell with hope and happiness. I hope that you will feel a measure of pride, reading about the great work of your Master Gardener colleagues across the state.

Photo Description. A Master Gardener hauls weeds in a pull cart, at a Master Gardener demonstration garden in the Portland Metro region. The Master Gardener is wearing a face covering, which were required for in person volunteerism during the COVID restrictions of 2020. Photo courtesy of John Jordan.

Perhaps more than any other year in recent history, gardens provided food, solace, and hope. Even more than that, gardens truly became tools of economic security and resilience, and it will be our challenge in 2021 and beyond to ensure that ALL gardeners and potential gardeners have access to the gifts of gardening.

To put things in a broader perspective, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and summer wildfires exerted stress on multiple pressure points related to the economic and food security of U.S. households: more people reported being in need of food aid and more people (including, but beyond those in need of food aid) reported being concerned about food access. In April of 2020, the unemployment rate jumped 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%, in what represented the single largest monthly increase since the employment statistics have been tracked (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020). Local and national news media reported surges in demand for food aid from food banks and food pantries across the United States. In addition, reports of disruptions to global food production and distribution chains, compelled the FDA (2020) and the USDA (Johansson 2020) to respond to public concern and fear related to food shortages.

The United States has a long history of turning to gardening in times of national emergency, starting with the Victory Garden movements of WW I (Hayden-Smith 2014) and WWI II (Lawson 2014). ‘Recession gardens’ followed the great recession of 2008, with more than 43 million households reporting an intention to grow their own food in 2009, which was a 19% increase from the previous year (NGA 2009). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, University Extension Services across the nation saw large increases in the number of people who are seeking information on growing their own food.

This is exactly what OSU Extension saw in 2020. We saw a 67% increase in the number of people submitting questions on OSU’s Ask an Expert Service. We saw a 125% increase in the number of people who ‘liked’ us on Facebook. We saw a 2,806% increase in the number of people signing up for online gardening courses!

In 2020, Master Gardener volunteers were needed more than ever ~ and you rose to the challenge in many different innovative and profoundly moving ways. Thank you.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed photos, stories, and statistics for the impact report, and extra special thanks to LeAnn Locher for helping the stories come to life with such a beautiful design.

Elevated Skills Training Update

If you are an Oregon Master Gardener volunteer, and haven’t already checked out the 2021 Elevated Skills Trainings for Master Gardener volunteers, now is the time to do so. Altogether, the 14 classes that are being offered have over 3,000 combined enrollments! Seven classes have already opened, and the other seven will open over the coming weeks.

Although the courses, themselves, will remain open for self-paced learning that you can complete at your own pace, and when it is most convenient to you ~ the discussions boards will only be monitored, and instructors will only be available to comment on your assignment submission, through the end of April.

Early reviews for the courses include this note about the Woody Plant ID course: “Plant ID has been my nemesis for my 12 years as a Master Gardener. I pushed through. When we got to the plant ID tool I felt like a whole new and wonderful world opened up for me. I honestly am excited about identifying plants with this tool as a guide. This has me stoked and I have never been “stoked” in my life.

The 2021 Elevated Skills Training offers Oregon’s Master Gardener volunteers a chance to expand and grow their skillset in ways that include plant and insect ID using technological tools, databases to support Plant Clinic work, and more. (Video created by Elizabeth Records, OSU Extension)

Please Note: We have changed the original guidance on CEUs for the Elevated Skills Training. Instead of one hour per course taken, you can count and report your actual time in each class, as your number of CEUs. In other words, if a class took you two hours, you can count two CEUs. If a class took you three hours, you can count three CEUs.

I am also working with MG coordinators to see if any part of course participation (such as time spent on the hands-on assignments and practical application of knowledge) can count towards required volunteer service hours. Stay tuned.

Want to sign up for classes? Visit THIS LINK for a full list of courses with enrollment links.

Two New and Remote Volunteer Opportunities

At this time, when many Oregon counties are in the ‘Extreme Risk’ of COVID transmission category, there are limited opportunities for Master Gardener volunteerism. And, until we return to ‘normal’, we can expect that OSU Extension will require approval for in-person programming and employee travel. The current guidance that we are operating under can be found in the PDF, below.

A jpg of the OSU Extension Activities and Risk Level Matrix, which is also shared in this post as a pdf.

During this time of COVID restrictions, Master Gardener volunteers have continued to serve their communities by writing social media posts (gardening tips of the week), participating in virtual plant clinic, or approved work in demonstration of community gardens. Given the limited selection of approved volunteer activities at this time, I am pleased to announce that there are two new options available for Master Gardener volunteer service. Both of these projects are eligible for volunteer service hour credit.

1) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Learning Community and Task Force

Are you interested in participating in a statewide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI )workgroup? We are exploring the formation of a statewide DEI workgroup that would include OSU Extension Master Gardener staff and volunteers.

For the past 8 months, a small group of Master Gardener program staff have been meeting to establish priorities and to work on creating a more equitable and inclusive program. We’d like to grow this group to include volunteers, and to create a learning community and work group dedicated to DEI. Are you interested in participating? We’d love to hear from you.

  • A learning community and working group to focus on needs and priorities for diversity, equity and inclusion in the OSU Extension Master Gardener program
  • Estimated time commitment is 5 hours/month. Statewide working group to meet monthly, subteams to meet 1-2 times a month for specific focused work. Hours count towards MG volunteer hours.
  • Apply before February 12th. We hope to have the first meeting in April.
  • Apply here before February 12th: https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_41JSg3HIvsAFUwt

Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge

Food Hero and Master Gardeners are collaborating on the 2021 Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge. The second year of the Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge, is much bigger than last year’s Challenge! This year we are looking to sign up 8,000 gardeners to grow vegetable and flowers and need your help!

We need your help to grow along and share your expert advice with these gardeners. Please consider signing up to participate as a Grow This! Champion. Your growing tips, comments, challenges and stories will be shared on our social media platforms and in monthly update emails to beginning gardeners as a way to build a growing community across the state.

Master Gardener volunteers are invited to participate, and apply to be a Grow This! Champion.

A Grow This! Champion:

  1. Must be a current Oregon Master Gardener volunteer or Master
    Gardeners representing a county demonstration/educational garden.
  2. Will need to apply for the Grow This! Champion program by midnight
    February 19 (we are looking to include Master Gardeners from across
    the state and may need to limit participation if demand exceeds our
    seed supply).
  3. Will receive one crop seed packet and one flower seed packet.
    (Type and variety will be selected at random.) Pick up will be at your
    county in March (specifics will be sent by email)
  4. Must agree to give feedback on your growing process and results
    at least once—but as often as you want—during the Challenge.
    Feedback could include suggestions, comments, challenges and
    solutions, stories, photos, drawings or videos that we can share
    with others (with or without your name). These can be emailed to
    food.hero@oregonstate.edu or shared on social media adding the
    following text to any post: @BeAFoodHero and #mastergardener.
    All feedback is WELCOME.
  5. Can count your active time spent on this project as Master Gardener
    volunteer hours (report as ‘community science’)

Questions?
Email Brooke.Edmunds AT oregonstate.edu or food.hero AT oregonstate.edu or leave a voice message at 541-737-1017.

Learn more about the challenge here: https://www.foodhero.org/growthis. You can also download the flier in the file, below, to share with other Master Gardener volunteers who might be interested in participating.

A jpg of the Grow This! Challenge flier, which is also shared in this post as a pdf.


Overview of the Master Gardener Program Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration and Discussion

This year, the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program is sponsoring an evening discussion on January 18, 2021 from 7pm-8pm, as one small part of OSU’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration. This Zoom event is open to Master Gardener volunteers, and is intended to provide an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and our programmatic commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

How the Discussion Will Work

The discussion will be divided into three parts:

  • We will start with introductions and housekeeping tasks. Since this event is being hosted as a meeting, and not a webinar, we want to make sure that folks understand how to mute and unmute their microphone, ask a question or add a comment, where to go for technical help, etc. If you are new to using Zoom, you may want to join a test meeting, to practice using video and audio, before the event.
We will start the meeting by going over the different ways that you can engage with the group during the meeting.
  • We will then present a series of five questions to the group, and will ask you to share your perspectives. We’ll first direct everyone to an electronic bulletin board that we’ve pre-populated with the questions, so that everyone has a chance to share. A benefit of this approach is that it takes away some of the awkwardness of speaking up in a Zoom meeting with many folks in attendance. An added benefit is that you will also have a chance to read how others respond. After taking a few moments to share, we’ll reconvene as a group, and reflect upon and discuss the question, with the broader knowledge of how individuals across the group responded.
  • We will end with a call to action. We will share some of the great work being done by our Master Gardener colleagues in Rhode Island, and invite you to consider how you might bring some of these efforts into your own work as a Master Gardener volunteer.

Expectations for Civil Dialogue in Community Spaces

During our discussion, we will be adhering to some basic ground rules for civil discussion. These include:

  • Sharing time equitably to ensure the participation of all.
  • Listening carefully and not interrupt.
  • Keeping an open mind and be open to learning.
  • Respond to differences respectfully.

In addition, it can be helpful to review the differences between debate and dialogue, and to truly focus on the opportunities that dialogue spaces can offer. As one of my friends has said: “Listening is a super power. Trust and relationships can make almost anything possible.” (Claire Horner-Devine).

Debate DialogueDialogue
is oppositional: two sides oppose each other
and attempt to prove each other wrong.
is collaborative: two or more sides work together towards common understanding.
has winning as the goal.has finding common ground as the goal.
lets one side listen to the other side in order to find flaws and to counter its arguments.lets one side listen to the other side to understand.
defends assumptions as the truthreveals assumptions for reevaluation.
causes critique of the other position.causes introspection of one’s own position.
defends one’s own positions as the best solution and excludes other solutions.opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions.
Creates a closed-minded attitude, a determination to be right.creates an open-minded attitude, an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.
prompts a search for glaring differences.prompts a search for basic agreements.
involves a countering of other position without focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or deprecates the other person.involves a real concern for the other person and does not seek to alienate or offend.
Appendix A2 in the US Department of Justice Community Dialogue Guide.

I look forward to seeing some of you at our discussion on January 18th, and thank you for all of the work that you do as Master Gardener volunteers.

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.

Celebrate Oregon Master Gardener Week, Day 5: Statewide Program Update

Last night, I presented an overview of some key events within Oregon’s Statewide Master Program over the past year ~ including challenges and how we’ve responded ~ as well as a look forward to 2021.

I mention the following links or resources during the talk:

We’re wrapping up our week-long celebration of Oregon’s Master Gardeners, this evening, with beneficial insect trivia hosted by Nicole Sanchez. Details are posted within the event course page.