COVID-19 is having a tremendous impact on social, environmental, and economic conditions throughout the state of California and across the globe. Collectively we have endured a series of losses, from financial security to the lives of loved ones. We have had to adapt to shifts in our way-of-life, and vision a new, safe future for our communities.
Volunteerism and the many benefits of gardening have recently seen a flood of interest from local and national news media. While much about the future is still uncertain, it is clear that the UC Master Gardener Program's work to extend practical, research-based home horticulture, integrated pest management, and sustainable landscaping information is more relevant than ever before.
COVID-19 related shelter-in-place orders, social distancing requirements, and public or individual health threats have changed the way UC Master Gardener volunteers engage with community members and with each other. Most volunteers have had to limit their participation following federal, state, local, and UC system-wide guidance. Many volunteers are simultaneously balancing childcare, eldercare, work, and personal responsibilities, resulting in limited time for volunteer commitments. For some volunteers, this global crisis has led to engagement in new and innovative extension methods.
Join us over the next two weeks as we share a four-part series of stories that celebrate the innovation, creativity, and flexibility of UC Master Gardener volunteers and county staff during this unique time!
“When California went into shelter-in-place, our public education team stepped up to ensure the public would still be able to connect with UC Master Gardener volunteers and receive gardening information and support,” said Tracy Celio, UC Master Gardener program coordinator in Amador County.
UC Master Gardener volunteer, Ed Bass, was especially committed, teaching himself how to use video software to create educational gardening content. Bass shared his videos about spring gardening and using compostable materials in raised beds on social media on the UC Master Gardener Program of Amador County's Facebook page. After a couple of successful videos with high engagement, Celio proposed an online public workshop via Zoom. “We chose to feature a virtual tour of the Heritage Rose Garden followed by a question and answer session with our UC Master Gardener rose experts,” said Celio.
Ed Bass shot and edited the virtual rose garden tour video, working alongside fellow volunteer and workshop instructor Judy Woods. Bass and Woods worked closely together to develop a strategy for the online tour and how to best meet its learning objectives. UC Master Gardener volunteer, Doris Mosblech, jumped aboard to help trouble-shoot and manage the Zoom waiting room and chat.
“Because of Ed's flexibility, enthusiasm, and willingness to try something new, UC Master Gardener volunteers in Amador County have been able to stay engaged with our community. We could not have done it without him,” said Celio.
Visit the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Amador County Facebook page to view more exciting videos and virtual content.
While COVID-19 has affected all communities and volunteers differently, the resilience, creativity, and flexibility of UC Master Gardener volunteers and coordinators continue to inspire and impress. The stories featured in this four-part series here are a small snapshot of the innovation and strength that this food community and garden education community has to offer. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the 4-part series on Growing Creativity in the COVID-19 Era.
Please note: Reappointment for the 2020/2021 Program Year began on June 1st and ends July 30th. The UC Master Gardener Program celebrates and appreciates all volunteers, regardless of their ability to contribute hours during this unprecedented time. Volunteers who choose to remain active and reappoint will be approved, regardless of the number of volunteer or continuing education hours completed this year. Volunteers will not be responsible for making up any incomplete volunteer and continuing education hours in the following program year. However, all volunteers must complete reappointment to remain active or limited active with the UC Master Gardener Program.