Every fall, most Extension Master Gardener Programs in Oregon open applications for their new class of volunteers. This might be a good time to take a look at the resources for Recruiting and Selecting new volunteers, on the national Extension Master Gardener Coordinators website.
In general, many Extension Master Gardener Coordinators report increased success with a training class, when they build in time to talk with or interview prospective volunteers. Taking the time to meet with and talk to prospective volunteers provides an opportunity to make sure that each individual understands the volunteer commitment part of the program, and also the general structure and goals of the program.
Our group has developed a list of suggested questions that you may want to ask prospective volunteers. Master Gardener Coordinators can also find the interview questions in the MG Recruitment Folder on Box.
If you have more applicants that you can accept into the program, you may find it helpful to rank each applicant’s answer. This may help you choose among multiple applicants.
The questions on the interview sheet are merely suggestions. You may modify these questions to meet the specific needs in your county. You may also want to ask prospective trainees to elaborate on their response to a particular question.
IMPORTANT: You must not ask age, marital status, children, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Avoid any personal questions other than those on the interview sheet that are pertinent to the candidate’s gardening experience and ability to participate in the program.
If you are conducting group interviews, with multiple Master Gardener interviewers and multiple Master Gardener applicants, a warm-up activity may help to break the ice. A few ideas for the warm-up:
- Have the new people take five minutes by themselves and find three things they all have in common and one thing about each of them that’s unique. Similarities can be simple things like the same color hair, all wearing corrective lenses, or have dogs as pets, etc. They don’t have to be garden related. After five minutes have the group share what they found out about each other. While they are doing the activity, take the five minutes to discuss how your group will handle the interviews, such as who will go first, rotation of questions, etc.
- Ask participants to share their first garden memory? (Grandmother’s flowers, first vegetable garden, etc.)
Wishing you the best for the 2020 training season!