Metro Master Gardeners Annual Report

Dear Master Gardener volunteers,

Welcome to 2018!

The Master Gardener program team (Weston, Jordis, Marcia) and our supervisors at OSU appreciate your participation in our outreach and engagement efforts in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties.

Your volunteerism makes a difference, helping to spread sustainable gardening information in the community.

Thank you for your contribution of time and expertise!

Volunteer statistics- Wow! and thank you!

2017 Master Gardener trainees, Andrea and Lisa, wearing their newly earned Veteran Master Gardener badge.
2017 MG Trainees, Andrea and Lisa, sporting their newly earned Veteran Master Gardener badge.
Photo courtesy of Eddie Rosen

In 2017, we conducted the Master Gardener training for 144 students (with volunteer requirement) plus an additional 15 students enrolled in our certificate option (no volunteer requirement). Of this group, 105 students submitted volunteer hours.

We coordinated an additional 440 volunteers (545 total volunteers for 2017), who provided 38,422 hours of service.

Based on the Independent Sector ( value of volunteer time in Oregon of $24.15 for 2017, the in-kind value of this contribution is $927,891 toward this public service of OSU Extension Service.  Woo-wee!  Master Gardeners are remarkable!

About 18,000 of these hours were applied toward OSU sponsored outreach activities including helplines, plant clinics, and gardening presentations. This volunteer effort produced 48,460 unique educational contacts with adults and 394 pesticide free zone pledges.

Master Gardeners make gardening presentations to the community via our Speakers Guild and 10-Minute University.  In 2017, MGs conducted 69 seminar events with 3,927 educational contacts.

As a learning community, Master Gardeners reported 7,753 hours of continuing education credit through recertification classes, webinars, and pest curation groups.

In addition to the activities described above, Master Gardener chapters in the metro area manage multiple demonstration gardens, conduct plant sales, and orchestrate chapter activities.

MG Trainees at Vegetable Clinic
Vegetable Clinic with Weston Miller. Photo courtesy of Eddie Rosen

These program statistics paint a picture of an incredible learning community focused on community service.  We are in awe!

Thank you to MG program/chapter liaisons!

The MG program team would like to extend a special thank you to a group of MG volunteers that provided us with timely and sage advice during the course of the year through our on-going MG liaison group.  With the goal of improving communications between and MG program and chapters (and individual volunteers) and among the chapters, the Liaison group met eight times in 2017.

Thank you to you:

  • Rich Becker, Multnomah Co.
  • Kimberly Culbertson, Washington Co.
  • Jack Lazereck, Multnomah Co.
  • Cindy Manselle, Clackamas Co.
  • Janet Weber, Clackamas Co.

We had a great meeting in December with this group and Liaison representatives for 2018.  We are looking forward to continued and improved collaboration.

Strategic plan 2014-2019- Update

To guide the MG program into the future, we are working toward the following goals:

  1. Improving the effectiveness of the MG training and volunteer program.
  2. Streamlining branding and communications.
  3. Optimizing resources (financial, human, and organizational).
  4. Expanding our outreach to under-served audiences to promote diversity and equity.
  5. Growing the next generation of gardeners (youth and adults).

Here is an update on these efforts:

1. Improving the effectiveness of the MG training and volunteer program

Jane Collier instructing students at Master Gardener Training
Jane Collier at MG Training

In 2015, we modified the format of the MG program from 11 weeks of in-person classes to a hybrid learning format including seven weeks of in-person training, online content, online final exam in addition to seminars, and hands-on workshops.  This format has provided more flexibility and multiple pathways of learning sustainable gardening content for our students.  This format has also provided more flexibility for the MG program team to provide the MG curriculum.

New for 2018, we have asked our instructors to include active-learning opportunities for in-person classes, which have been mostly lecture-based.  Inclusion of new, hands/minds-on activities is part of a state-wide effort to provide a richer learning experience for our students.

We encourage you to come on out the the 2018 classes to experience this new focus, aimed at supporting adult learning.

2. Streamlining branding and communications

In 2015, the MG program and our area chapters adapted new logos and made efforts to improve MG program and chapter websites and to give them a more universal look and feel.  Additionally, we initiated the MG program/chapter liaison group as an important means of getting advice from you, our volunteer network.

We also know that there is much room for improvement in our communications with our volunteers and community partners.  Here are steps that we are taking in 2018:

  • More efficient communications with our Liaison group to make it easier for them to share information from the MG program with chapters and vice versa.
  • New and improved online newsletter format including email, blogs, and PDF documents.
  • This annual report that you are reading now.
  • An annual open meeting for all MGs (coming June 2018).

3. Optimizing resources (financial, human, and organizational).

We continue to benefit from the generous financial support of Clackamas County Extension and Metro.  Both organizations provide critical base funding to make our regional effort possible.  Thank your to Mike Bondi and Carl Grimm for their support.

Unfortunately, we still need to charge program fees to cover our costs of production.  In 2017, program fees provided $64,000 of income needed to conduct the program including materials, transport, and staff time.

We also greatly appreciate nearly $15,000 in donations (over three years) from MG chapters and individuals to support reduced-fee slots for the MG training.  These resources have made it possible for us to offer 61 reduced fee slots to community members (over three years).  Thank you for your generous support!

4. Expanding our outreach to under-served audiences to promote diversity and equity.

In addition to offering reduced-fee opportunities to train Master Gardeners, we are making efforts to engage with diverse audiences.  Here are some recent successes in this realm:

  • Master Gardeners instruct basic food gardening classes to the community through our partnership with Oregon Food Bank’s Seed to Supper programs.
  • Conduct focus groups and questionnaires in Spanish-language and with immigrants/newcomers to get feedback about pests and pest control as part of, a planned website project to provide comprehensive IPM resources for non-agricultural audiences in Oregon and beyond.  We have over 100 points of contact with diverse stakeholders including: Latino, Tongan, Russian, Vietnamese, and immigrant/newcomer communities.
  • is planned to be a state-wide resource with at least 750 content pages available in both English and Spanish.  Check out the project website for this planned resource.

For 2018, we are planning a pilot outreach program to reach diverse audiences:

Garden Bridges: Growing Cross Cultural Connection in the Garden

Black and white drawing of a bridge arching over water.
Image courtesy of People, Places and Things

Would you like to garden with immigrants and refugees? Oregon State University is partnering with People-Places-Things LLC.  to build relationships between English language learners and Master Gardeners.  Master Gardeners will develop their intercultural communication skills, helping immigrants and refugees learn English and gardening skills.

The general commitment is two hours a week in a classroom setting developing relationships with language learners. Then when the weather gets a little better, we’ll welcome Newcomer gardeners and show them around, practicing English and tending your plots together. All experiences will be very practical and hands-on. You’ll make some new friends, learn about the amazing people in your neighborhood, and share your expertise.

Interested in becoming a cross cultural educator as part of this pilot partnership with People-Places-Things?  See details about an upcoming info session in the January newsletter.


5. Growing the next generation of gardeners (youth and adults)

Students at End of the Oregon Trail Garden
Photo courtesy of Sharon Andrews

We want to train the next generation of gardeners by providing research-based information.

At the Oregon Zoo backyard habitat exhibit, MGs interacted with nearly 5,000 kids in 2017!

A handful of individual Master Gardeners connect with kids in school gardens through regular programming and consulting services.  Thank you to Frank Willie, Kris Lamar, and Jeanine Rychlik for reporting these important efforts in 2017!

Also, in addition to training the next generation of Master Gardeners, the OSU Master Gardener team is working hard to provide gardening information to the general public through public media contacts including our new partnership with The Oregonian.


Monthly “What to do in the garden” video series

We’ve had an outstanding opportunity to collaborate with the Oregonian to produce practical, how-to video series with monthly gardening tips.  Thank you to Monica Maggio and Ruban Lawrence for your contribution to these videos.  And thank you to 2017 trainee Michelle Nicolosi for fostering this partnership.

Check them out!

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