UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties
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UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties

Posts Tagged: Volunteers

Program Coordinators and Leaders Gather for Annual Professional Development Meeting

Program coordinators, volunteer leaders and the statewide staff gathered at the UC ANR building in Davis, CA for the UC Master Gardener Program's annual coordinator meeting. Photo: Melissa Womack

The UC Master Gardener Program is well known for its volunteers' prolific extension of home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management to California residents. At times behind the scenes and at other times front and center, UC Master Gardener Program Coordinators and lead volunteers work diligently to ensure that volunteer cohorts have the skills and resources they need to succeed.

Last month UC Master Gardener statewide staff, program coordinators, and volunteer leaders gathered for their annual coordinator meeting. This year the annual coordinator meeting included two packed days full of training, sharing, and enrichment centered on volunteer engagement.

Program coordinators and volunteer leaders brainstormed ideas on ways to engage and support volunteers from all generations. Photo: Melissa Womack

Volunteer engagement is an approach to volunteer leadership that attempts to support volunteers throughout the volunteer lifecycle – from identification and selection through orientation and training to program recognition and evaluation. Presenters delivered informative presentations focusing on generation-informed approaches to volunteer engagement, best practices in adult and land-based learning, program evaluation, communication with government officials, and new resources.
 
Sample icebreakers were done in the morning as a team-building activity and to showcase interactive ways to have volunteers meet each other or buy into the training. In this icebreaker coordinators were asked to act out the phrase "Oh no! Look at that topped tree!"
 
Following a few sample icebreakers, coordinators received updates on the state of volunteer engagement within UC ANR from Gemma Miner, the UC 4-H Youth Development Program's Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. Building on this presentation, UC Master Gardener Program Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Marisa Coyne, offered a presentation on applying a generational lens to the work of recruiting and retaining volunteers. Coordinators brainstormed generated ideas related to improving the generational diversity of UC Master Gardener volunteers and remarked that although each generation (traditionalist, baby boomer, generation X, and millennial) was shaped by different trends and events, many of their needs are similar.
 
Program Coordinator, Judy McClure, of Sacrament County welcomed attendees to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center to learn about how gardens can be used as an outdoor classroom and learning space. Photo: Melissa Womack
 
A quick lunch was followed by a visit to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, a beloved community garden located in Sacramento County. The Horticulture Center hosts community events and workshops, including an annual Harvest Day in August attended by thousands in the region annually. At the garden, Lauren Snowden, Statewide Training Coordinator, demonstrated hands-on, multi-sensory, participant-focused facilitation methods, while teaching about bulbs for fall planting. UC Master Gardener Volunteer, Lori Thorson, gave her account of the impact of the program on her life. 
 
A hands-on demonstration about planting bulbs showcased multi-sensory and participant focused facilitation methods. Photo: Melissa Womack
 

The group re-convened bright and early the next day for a presentation by UC Davis Student Farm Associate Director, Carol Hillhouse. Drawing on her 30-year career in outdoor experiential learning with UC, Hillhouse outlined eight best practices for adult and land-based learning. “Adults come to education experiences with prior knowledge and with expectations,” said Hillhouse. “Successful volunteer engagement includes the acknowledgement and application of prior knowledge and an ability to meet adult learning goals.”

Carol Hillhouse, UC Davis Student Farm Associate Director, presented to the group about experiential learning and engaging volunteers. Photo: Melissa Womack
 

Next, Melissa Womack, Statewide Marketing and Communications Coordinator and Tamekia Wilkins, Statewide Evaluation Coordinator, led the group through an activity designed to help folks share program evaluation data using storytelling and data. As daily communication moves increasingly online, networks like Twitter and Facebook create opportunities for sharing impact with community members and community leaders.

 

Participants were asked to combine storytelling and impact data for various communication pieces. Photo: Melissa Womack
 
Before lunch, Coordinators were treated to a special presentation from Anne Megaro, UC ANR Government and Community Relations Director, who provided advice for effective communication with government officials and community leaders. Megaro noted that, in the local context, it is important to “know your champions,” meaning the individuals (volunteers included!), entities, and families that are committed to and recognize the worth of projects and offerings. 
 
Finally, a five person panel of program coordinators presented on the topic of partnerships for program effectiveness, sharing ideas for possible collaborations with juvenile rehabilitation programs, visually impaired communities, school districts, sustainability-focused non-profit organizations, and other UC ANR statewide programs.
 
Five coordinators and volunteer leaders, presented on projects that support the program's mission and are opportunities for meaningful partnerships within our communities. Photo: Melissa Womack
 
Just as UC Master Gardener Volunteers seek continuing education to ensure that their horticulture information and extension skills are sharp, program coordinators engage annually in professional development around volunteer management, program administration, and evaluation. Research on core competencies of Master Gardener Coordinators in North Carolina indicates that a variety of proficiencies are needed to successfully lead a Master Gardener Program. Annual coordinator meetings are a regular opportunity to build and share knowledge.

A list of coordinators can be found the UC Master Gardener Program website. Note: Some counties do not have UCCE staff coordinators. In these cases, UCCE Advisors or County Directors are listed as the lead contact per UC ANR policy.

Thank you to all who attended and presented at this year's coordinator meeting!
 
 
 
Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 11:16 AM
Tags: Master Gardener (32), Training (4), VMI (1), Volunteers (7)
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Vegetable Pest Management Training Series a Success

It may seem odd to see seventy-five people at a hotel conference center learning about insects and rats on vegetables, but not if you are a UC Master Gardener.  The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) in partnership with the UC Master Gardener Program just wrapped up the Vegetable Pests and Solutions train-the-trainer series. More than 340 UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state took part in the regional trainings offered in Fresno, Orange, Placer, San Luis Obispo and Sonoma counties. 

Active Learning

The advanced UC IPM training offered a hands-on, train-the-trainer experience that increased participants' knowledge of insect pests of vegetables, vegetable plant diseases and disorders, and vertebrate pests of gardens and homes.  One of the highlights of the training was Human-Wildlife Interaction Advisor, Niamh Quinn, showing a taxidermy collection of vertebrate pests at the Orange and San Luis Obispo County workshops.  Being able to handle and observe the different markings, colors and claws on certain animals makes future identification easier as participants learned the signs to look for when identifying vertebrate pest damage in the vegetable garden.

UC Master Gardeners are getting a real hands-on look at the features of a pocket gopher. Photo Credit: Elaine Lander

UC Master Gardener volunteers were lead through exercises that mimic questions commonly received from the public.  Some of the questions had a photo, others just a sparse description that volunteers worked together to solve using online IPM resources and materials provided at the training.  The exercises were designed to challenge and expose the learner to different types of scenarios and tools they can use in the future.

Outreach and Education

The UC Master Gardener Program's mission is to extend research-based information, by attending advanced trainings such as this, volunteers are even more prepared to contribute to the program's mission. With exposure and practice using new resources and materials training attendees have the tools and knowledge needed to educate the public on vegetable pests and solutions including scripted PowerPoints, activities, handouts, and vegetable pest identification card sets. One attendee reported “As a first year UC Master Gardener, this training helped me become more comfortable and more confident researching answers for pest management questions.” 

At the conclusion of the training volunteers convened with their fellow county volunteers to talk about their plans to take new found knowledge back into their communities.  Some of the great ideas generated were:

  • offer seasonal pest problems workshops
  • include a “Need Help Solving Pest Problems?” flier for all events
  • add IPM tips to newsletters and social media
  • integrate IPM into presentations as appropriate or relevant to topic
  • add signage for damaged or diseased plants with IPM solutions in demonstration gardens
  • share IPM toolkit at farmers markets and demo garden events

UC Master Gardener volunteers of Orange County are brainstorming ideas of how to incorporate the IPM training they just received into their outreach and education efforts. Photo Credit: Elaine Lander

How We are Making a Difference

One portion of the agenda was focused on how the UC Master Gardener community is making a difference. With 6,000+ volunteers serving more than 517,000 Californians per year the impact of the UC Master Gardener volunteer effort is truly amazing.  Through statewide program evaluation efforts the impact in sustainable landscaping, food gardening and community well-being is now being analyzed and reported in the programs annual report.  Volunteers can see the impact they are having statewide and be proud of being part of a group that social changes they are seeing in their local communities. 

As active volunteers and life-long learners UC Master Gardeners are a powerful educational tool and inspiration for others not only in the garden but in the volunteer community.  Statewide educational offerings like UC IPM's train-the-trainer series help hone the diagnostics skills while building confidence in the subject matter. 

The next statewide training opportunity for UC Master Gardener volunteers will be the 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference, Sept. 28 –Oct. 2, 2020 at the Granlibakken, Tahoe. The conference is the beginning planning stages and taking speaker and topic suggestions, click here to suggest a speaker or topic.

Posted on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 10:20 AM
Tags: 2020UCMG (1), Gardening (15), IPM (10), Master Gardener (32), Master Gardener Program (3), Pests (6), Volunteers (7), Weeds (2)
Focus Area Tags: Pest Management Yard & Garden

Announcing the 40th Anniversary UC Master Gardener Photo Contest Winners!!

The UC Master Gardener Program is pleased to announce the winners of the 40th Anniversary UC Master Gardener Photo Contest.  Thank you for helping tell our story by submitting over 480 photos and to all the people who voted.

 People's Choice”  Winners
1st - “Lettuce Grow”, My Thanh Kim, San Diego County

2nd - “Early Head Start Students”, Marti Lindsey, Los Angeles County

3rd - “Stairway to a Heavenly Garden”, Leora Worthington, Monterey County

 

Prizes
First, Second and Third place winners were notified by email and will receive prizes and be showcased on the statewide UC Master Gardener Program website, UC ANR Repository, UC Master Gardener social media channels, program marketing materials and the 2019 annual report. Winners will also be recognized by having their photo displayed in a gallery at the 2020 UC Master Gardener Program statewide conference. 

 

Thank You for your Support
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Photo Contest! The gallery of submitted photos represents what it means to be a UC Master Gardener. The photos will be used to communicate our impact, message and mission through the use of imagery. 

Together we are making a difference!

 

Honorable Mention
4th - “Kids+tools= Cool School Garden”, My Thanh Kim, San Diego County

5th - “Drip Irrigation or Dripping in Paint”, My Thanh Kim, San Diego County

6th - “Queen Bee surrounded by her Entourage at the Master Gardener booth, Amador County Fair”, Betty Olson-Jones, Amador County

7th “Master Gardener Butterfly Garden (Alice Keck Memorial Garden Santa Barbara)”, Karen Twibell, Santa Barbara County

8th - “MG Coordinator, Maggie O'Neill is also a cake decorator! Celebrating Volunteers”, Robin Rowe, San Bernardino County

9th - “Future UC Master Gardener!”, Lauren Snowden, Yuba-Sutter Counties

10th - “Working Together for better gardens”, Julie Enberg

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 11:51 AM
  • Author: Donna Valadez
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

We’ve launched! VMS 3.1 Ready to Soar

While the UC Master Gardener Program has been around since the 1980s, thankfully our technology has changed with the times. Most recently, the Volunteer Management System (VMS) received its long overdue upgrade – we've launched version 3.1! 

VMS 3.1 has a responsive design for tablets and smart phones, making it easier to navigate and enter hours from the field.

Great feedback was collected from volunteers and coordinators to lay the foundation for the new system. VMS 3.1 maintains all the functionality of the old system with up-to-date branding and design. Additionally, VMS 3.1 has many of the new features YOU requested. 

New features and upgrades were added to enhance the system, based on feedback from counties across the state.

Check out what's new!

  • Updated hours display (year and lifetime)
  • User-centric navigation
  • Automatic alerts and reminders
  • Search bars
  • ... and so much more!

It's exciting to have a system designed specifically to meet the needs of the UC Master Gardener Program. Enjoy the new features built just for you! If you have any feedback for future improvements, please submit your comments through the Feedback Survey at ucanr.edu/vmsfeedback

Need help? 

If you have any questions about the new system, help is only a click away. Check out our VMS help page, which includes a new VMS User's Guide and How-To videos for commonly used functions. See for yourself at: ucanr.edu/sites/vmshelp.

Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 1:09 PM
  • Author: Katelyn Ogburn
Tags: hours (2), master gardener (32), VMS (9), volunteers (7)
Focus Area Tags: Innovation Yard & Garden

Feeling at Home with Fellow UC Master Gardeners at the 2017 Conference!


UC Master Gardeners taking photos with friends and fellow volunteers at the social media wall at the conference. Photo credit: Sheila Clyatt
The woman next to me asked if I wouldn't mind passing the butter, then she adds, "Harlequin Beetles are a nuisance." I nod in response and we move on to another exciting lunch topic. I am at a table surrounded by strange garden loving enthusiasts and I feel right at home.

In fact, it is the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference, in Long Beach, and we have descended on a very "posh" hotel with our sneakers, jeans and short practical fingernails. We stand out so much that it is almost humorous. We are a jovial crowd, relaxed and invigorated by the audible buzz of information and humor relayed at every gathering.

Some of the returnees appear to take everything in stride but I am so excited about this event that I push all fear aside and talk to every UC Master Gardener volunteer I meet. I am relieved to establish that UC Master Gardeners are totally approachable, love to share information and some can talk longer on the subject of compost then I can. That is quite an accomplishment.

What is so awesome about this event, is that when entomology is discussed instead of glazed over eyes, my fellow attendees become hypervigilant to the subject and even interject with commentary. These are my people!
I had wanted to attend UC Master Gardener conferences in the past, including the 2014 event in Yosemite. But each year after filling out the application, adding the cost of hotel and transportation I'd determine it's not within my budget. This year with the help of the funds raised by the previous silent auction made available to all UC Master Gardeners volunteers, combined with the cheap airfare on JetBlue I was able to attend.

Having fun with "face coasters" during the awards banquet and silent auction. Photo credit: Sheila Clyatt
The experience was amazing! Everything about the conference was exceptional: we ate great food, listened to stimulating lectures, participated in hands on workshops, and met wonderful staff and volunteers. I also gained an extraordinary sense that I was a part of something bigger and that my contributions back home held a more significant impact because of it.

Witnessing what other UC Master Gardeners were doing in their counties was both inspiring and reassuring. We might not be geographically close - but our goals, efforts and intentions were all in alliance. This comradery of meaningful contribution buffered both my stamina in the program and my commitment to its goals.

I hope that I might be fortunate enough to attend another UC Master Gardener conference in the coming years, and if so, I hope to see you there!

Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 9:46 AM
  • Author: Sheila Clyatt
Tags: #2017UCMG (8), Conference (16), Events (2), Gardening (15), Master Gardener (32), Volunteers (7)

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