The signs of spring are different across Oregon: daffodils in the Willamette Valley, the first trilliums seen in bloom along the coastal forest roads, the fields greening up in Central Oregon, and in Southern Oregon, the bright red of maple tree buds before they unfurl into leaves.
Spring brings so much hope, so let’s talk some real talk: we acknowledge the social isolation has been hard on many of us, with little to no opportunity to gather in person and to do the gardening work we love, together. Yes, we’ve had many zoom meetings, webinars, emails, and virtual trainings, but as many of you are receiving vaccinations, there seems to be hope on the horizon. As we look to the possibility of opening things back up, please know that the health and safety of our volunteers is of utmost importance, and our work will be to prioritize that.
Face to face Master Gardener volunteer activities still require approval from the appropriate Extension regional director. Requests for new activities are submitted by your Master Gardener coordinator. Activities that have been approved may need to be cancelled or postponed if a county’s risk of COVID transmission moves from a lower to higher level in the interim between when an activity is approved and when the activity is scheduled to take place.
Many volunteers have asked if vaccination status influences the types of Master Gardener activities and projects that can be planned. OSU Extension administration states that irregardless of an individuals’ vaccine status, we are continuing to use the status at-a-glance information for restricted return or modified operations as a guide whether specific activity requests are approved, or not.
In discussions with Master Gardener Program Coordinators across the state, we noted that most face to face Master Gardener gatherings are going really well. Folks have taken the COVID safety training class, are wearing masks, and are observing social distancing. We have high confidence that our Master Gardener volunteers are doing their best to keep themselves and each other, safe. At the moment, we are prioritizing face to face Master Gardener activities that are limited to Master Gardener volunteers, or to a small number of folks from the general public. At this time, we’re not yet at the point where we want to schedule activities that would place Master Gardener volunteers into high-traffic events and activities with the general public. For now, we’re not prioritizing Master Gardener plant clinic booths at farmers markets or fairs.
As a closing note, we stand in solidarity with members of the Asian and Asian American community as the rise in anti-Asian racism continues in our country. To our Asian Master Gardeners and community: we see you, we value you, and know you deserve to feel safe and respected. Here is an important message from OSU leadership. To report a bias incident within the OSU community, visit the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Bias Incident Response website. Any member of the OSU community who believes they have been subjected to harassment or discrimination should visit the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.
Here’s to Spring and the message of hope it brings, for all of us.
LeAnn Locher Statewide Master Gardener Outreach Coordinator Oregon State University Extension
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.
Gail Langellotto | Statewide Coordinator, OSU Extension Master Gardener Program | Professor of Horticulture, Oregon State University
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.
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.
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:
Must be a current Oregon Master Gardener volunteer or Master Gardeners representing a county demonstration/educational garden.
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).
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or shared on social media adding the following text to any post: @BeAFoodHero and #mastergardener. All feedback is WELCOME.
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.
Overview of 2021 Elevated MG Skills Training and the Learning Platform Thinkific This class is required pre-requisite for any other course in this series. Get to know the format we’re using for this series, how classes are set up and how to navigate through them, and where to turn with questions. ENROLL HERE
Zoom Basics Opens January 29th Zoom is Oregon State University’s official video conferencing platform, and is currently used by Extension Master Gardener faculty, staff, and clients for online meetings, events, and webinars. This module will cover the Basics of Zoom, and is aimed at current Master Gardener volunteers who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with Zoom. Zoom Basics will cover what you need to know to be a participant in a Zoom meeting or webinar. REGISTER HERE
Advanced Zoom Opens January 29th Advanced Zoom is aimed at current Master Gardener volunteers who want to step up their Zoom capabilities, by hosting interactive meetings, serving as a session moderator for your Master Gardener chapter’s virtual conference or monthly speaker series, or serving as presenter of gardening information during a webinar or other gardening event. REGISTER HERE
iNaturalist for Master Gardener Volunteers Opens February 6th iNaturalist is one of the world’s most popular nature apps. This class will help you engage with the iNaturalist community, connect with other gardeners on our iNaturalist project page, and learn to identify the wild plants and animals around you, Although iNaturalist can be used to identify a broad diversity of organisms, this particular class will focus on insects and wild plants. Note: if you are interested in taking this class to learn to identify insects, and will be using a cell phone to take and upload images to iNaturalist, you may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive macro lens that can help you capture better images of small insects. REGISTER HERE
Garden Woody Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plants Database Opens February 5th Plant identification is vital for a variety of things, from ensuring your garden thrives to helping clients at the Plant Clinic figure out what plant they are working with. This module will introduce you to the OSU Landscape Plants Database. We’ll go through the database together to learn how you can use this simple but very effective tool for identifying woody plants in your landscape, or those of clients. REGISTER HERE
Best Practices for Online Plant Clinic Opens February 12th As a Master Gardener volunteer or trainee, you’re familiar with the role and function of in-person plant clinic. Your county may have recently adopted or may be in the process of adopting an online or remote plant clinic. In this online environment, some may find it challenging to research problems and communicate with clients and fellow volunteers. In this short course, you will gain knowledge and skills that connect your existing plant clinic skills to tools in your county’s online plant clinic. This course is suitable for all levels of experience with plant clinic. REGISTER HERE
Learning How to Use the Extension Client Contact Online (ECCO) Tool in Plant Clinic Opens February 12th In this course you will learn how to use the Extension Client Contact Online (ECCO) tool, an online record keeping tool and database for your plant clinic clients. This module will cover how to set up a login, how to enter a new client’s information and their question(s), and how to use the database to search out clients, or specific questions using filters such as plant name, keyword or questions topic. Additionally, this tool has a built in guide that can help improve your skill set in diagnosing plant damage. REGISTER HERE
Taking Your Master Gardener Social Media to the Next Level Opens February 19th Social media offers many opportunities for OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers to promote and share local events and meetings, but it also can connect gardeners in your region to a plethora of resources and is a great form of community building. In this course we’ll go deeper into how to use Facebook to connect with broader audiences, and we’ll tap into Instagram and even Nextdoor. We’ll identify how to enact the great skills we have in-person with the public to social networking platforms, and how to work as teams with other Master Gardener volunteers to coordinate your efforts. Maybe you’ll be the next big influencer! REGISTER HERE
Best Practices in Youth Gardening Programs Opens February 26th As a Master Gardener volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with youth in the garden. This module will cover the basics of Oregon State University’s Youth Safety & Guidelines, youth developmental stages, understand your role in building partnerships with youth, and develop garden-based education activities according to youth’s developmental stages. This short module is suitable for all Gardener volunteers with or without experience working with youth. REGISTER HERE
Superpower Your Educational Garden Opens February 26th This module is designed to inspire! We’ll be showcasing innovative educational outreach happening in educational gardens across the state (and beyond). We will share ideas for online outreach strategies to boost engagement with your demonstration/learning gardens and/or community gardens. Plus we’ll explore best practices to create engaging garden learning opportunities for both seasoned and newer Master Gardener volunteers. This module is organized by Brooke Edmunds (Extension Horticulturalist in Linn and Benton Counties) and Marcia McIntyre (Program Representative in the Portland metro area) and features a panel discussion with Master Gardeners from the Central Oregon, Multnomah and Washington County programs. REGISTER HERE
Community Science and the Master Gardener Program Opens March 5thNEW Opening Date: March 26th Community science is a type of scientific research or monitoring, where science professionals work closely with individuals or community groups to leverage local knowledge and insights, social learning, and collective action to help discover and disseminate new knowledge. Master Gardener volunteers are active and excellent collaborators on many community science projects across Oregon, and science professionals regularly seek out opportunities to work closely with Master Gardener volunteers on new projects. In this module, we explore how science works and how it relates to your garden. The overall aim is to deepen your understanding of the scientific process, and introduce you to several projects that you might participate in as a community scientist. REGISTER HERE
Showcase Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Efforts in Other States Opens March 12th You’ll have a chance to see how other states are overcoming barriers and creating new pathways to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how new audiences are being reached through the Master Gardener program. Find out what you can take back to your county! REGISTER HERE
OSU Extension’s Diversity Training for Volunteers Opens March 12th More information to come. This class has been postponed. An update will be posted, as soon as it becomes available.
Recipes for a Collaborative Community Opens March 15th Master Gardener programs around the state involve a wide-range of volunteers, partner organizations, and community clients. How everyone works together can contribute to the success or detriment of a project/program. What is the “secret sauce” to achieve a successful, collaborative community? A community that achieves shared goals and keeps people coming back and participating. REGISTER HERE
Building Community Partnerships to Broaden Outreach Opens March 19th We’re stronger together: grow and expand who you work with in the community by developing effective community partnerships. In this course you’ll learn how to identify possible partners, how to engage in partnerships, identify possible funding, and learn from other partnerships across Oregon and the country. We’ll look at examples of both rural and urban partnerships, get inspired, and chart a plan for growing effective partnerships. REGISTER HERE
Connect with Other Oregon Master Gardeners During the 10-Week Course Period
If you are on Facebook, you may want to consider joining the private group that we have set up to coincide with this 10-week training period. Connect with other Master Gardeners, ask questions, or share observations.
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.
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.
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.
late January-late March 2021
online learning platform Thinkific
Current Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees)
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.
The second Tuesday of the month, 3pm, January-November 2021
Zoom, with recordings available for you to view anytime
Open to the public, Master Gardener volunteers receive continuing education credit
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.
late January-late March 2021
online learning platform, Thinkific
Current Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees)
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.
January 18th, 7pm
OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers, staff, faculty
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.
May 18th + more dates in the series
Zoom online, with recordings available, and this blog
OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the gardening public
More details to be announced.
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.
OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the gardening public
More 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, 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:
Align with the Master Gardener educational mission of discovering and disseminating research-based gardening information,
Advance one of both of the flagship programs of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program: sustainable gardening and/or home and community food production,
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