With more than 650 participants, including 48 break-out sessions and four keynote speakers there was a wealth of knowledge and experience available to all that attended the triennial 2014 UC Master Gardener Conference.
Welcome & keynotes
Two keynote speakers followed Johnson's inspirational welcome, Doug Tallamy a professor in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, and Alan McHughen a public sector educator, scientist and consumer advocate for UC Riverside. Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home”, presented the importance of biodiversity in our ecosystems.
“Replacing half of the area that is now barren lawns with plants that are best at supporting food webs would create over 20 million acres of connectivity [nationally] and go a long way sustaining biodiversity in the future,” encourages Tallamy.
The opening day's final keynote speaker, Alan McHughen, presented on what every UC Master Gardener should know about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). His presentation was focused around his research findings, published in “Pandora's Picnic Basket”. McHughen explained the basics of rDNA technology and how it is used in agriculture and horticulture.
A magical night at Tenaya
The silent auction was a huge success with many counties donating beautiful baskets of local goods and handmade items. The total raised from the silent auction was more than $6,400! All of the money raised will go to offset the cost of registration for the 2017 conference.
Of the $6,400 raised, $600 was set aside for need-based scholarships. We're happy to announce the statewide UC Master Gardener Program and UC ANR are matching the $600, bringing the total up to an impressive $1800 to support need-based scholarships in 2017.
Sessions, sessions, and more sessions!
Visit the conference website to download some of this year's most memorable presentations. Many generous speakers have offered to share their presentations for future reference with conference attendees, visit the conference website to view the uploaded presentations.
Following a full day of learning, attendees were invited to join together in the grand ballroom for dinner. Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee's Garden, joined UC Master Gardeners for dinner as the night's keynote speaker. Shepherd discussed her pioneering career in the seed business as well as future trends in the gardening industry. She also explained the differences between heirlooms, hybrids and open pollinated seed varieties during her presentation titled, “A Seedy Business”.
Search for Excellence Winners and Honoring Pam Geisel
Following the winning Search for Excellence presentations was attendees enjoyed a heart-warming celebration of gratitude for Pam Geisel, honoring her years of service to the UC Master Gardener Program. Geisel began her career with Cooperative Extension in 1981 as an environmental horticulture advisor. In 2006, Geisel became the first statewide director of the UC Master Gardener Program, helping to establish the program under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and doubling program reach before her retirement in 2013. UC ANR's Associate Vice President, Bill Frost, was at the conference to recognize Geisel for her contributions to the program and awarded her with the 2014 ANR Distinguished Service award for Outstanding Leadership.
The conference's final keynote presenter, Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries, delivered a presentation on “Humor from the Horticultural Trenches” with many outrageous remarks and requests from the perspective of a garden clerk. Before attendees got on the road to travel home, a generous donation of plants from Monrovia were awarded to some lucky attendees.
See you in Southern California in 2017
Many thanks to the numerous volunteer, host counties and conference planning committee members who made the 2014 conference a reality. Without their dedication and support the conference would not have been possible. We look forward to reaping the harvest of our success in growing together at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Southern California.
Do you have a suggestion for the next conference or feedback for this year's event? Let us know at ucanr.edu/mgfeedback.
What is new?
- Clean new look with easy navigation
- Program impact statements and stories from around the state with a focus on strategic initiatives: healthy communities, plants and environments
- History timeline of UC Cooperative Extension and the UC Master Gardener Program
- Interactive map for visitors to easily locate a local program
- “Help Us Grow” section for online giving to support the UC Master Gardener Program statewide
- Easy to find gardening resources for the public
“The content is useful and well-presented and most importantly, easy to find… [the new site] has come together beautifully.” - Pam Geisel, Environmental Horticulture Advisor Emeritus and past Director of the UC Master Gardener Program
The new website was developed to improve the visitor's experience, whether they are a UC Master Gardener or member of the public. We encourage UC Master Gardeners to visit the new website and become familiar with the new design and information available!
UC Master Gardener programs in Riverside, Santa Clara, Orange and San Diego counties have won the program's Search for Excellence competition, announced Missy Gable, director of UC's statewide Master Gardener Program. The triennial Search for Excellence awards afford county programs the opportunity to share successful projects, including demonstration gardens, workshops, presentation or hands-on programs, community service, horticulture therapy, research or youth programs.
Educating the public was the focus of the Search for Excellence 2014 competition. The entries were judged by a team of experts selected from throughout the state.
"Congratulations to all the Master Gardeners involved in carrying out these innovative projects," Gable said. "This competition celebrates the hard work of dedicated UCCE Master Gardener volunteers across the state."
The Search for Excellence competition winners will be honored at the 2014 UC Master Gardener Conference, Oct. 7-10 in Fish Camp, Calif. The next Search for Excellence competition will be in 2017.
“There's Gold in them thar hills!” Riverside County is a big county, stretching from the Los Angeles metro area to the Colorado River. The main challenge of the UC Master Gardener Program of Riverside County was how to better fulfill their mission of educating their community on sustainable gardening practices. The answer – “Gold Miners.” Riverside County was divided into nine geographic areas with a UC Master Gardener volunteer in each area actively pursuing volunteering opportunities for their peers. Since the program began in 2011, “Gold Miners” has increased the presence of UC Master Gardeners throughout the county, giving volunteers the opportunity to provide outreach closer to home, engage new members of the public and increase the number of certified UC Master Gardeners from all regions of the county.
UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County developed a one-acre teaching and demonstration garden on the grounds of St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The demonstration garden was designed to create educational outreach opportunities in the far southern portion of the county. UC Master Gardener volunteers provide hands-on public workshops in the garden as well as classes in both the hospital boardroom and community libraries. The objectives of the St. Louise Hospital garden includes teaching residents about low-water vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants well-suited to local growing conditions, and modeling sustainable gardening practices reflective of UC research-based horticultural principles.
Passionate volunteers from the UC Master Gardener Program of Orange County developed a series of 15 educational videos. Nine videos provide a comprehensive overview of the composting process and six videos concentrate on worm composting. Each series begins with an explanation of what composting is and shifts into how to start, maintain and troubleshoot a compost pile or worm bin. The videos are designed to instruct and encourage the gardening public to compost either at home or in community gardens. All of the educational videos were filmed and narrated by UC Master Gardeners. The videos are published on the UC Master Gardeners of Orange County public website.
First Runner-up - Orange County
Recognizing the need to reach a significantly larger number of home gardeners than demonstration booths and Farmers Market tables were engaging, the UC Master Gardeners of Orange County developed a speakers bureau. The criteria was simple: fulfill the mission of disseminating up-to-date, research-based information and to deliver "wow" presentations for the public. UC Master Gardeners created teaching plans, incorporating the statewide program mission and the ANR Strategic Vision to cover important topics such as gardening for improved nutrition and healthy living. Additionally, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County engaged the help of Toastmasters International, an undisputed authority for training speakers.
Second Runner-up - San Diego County
UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County created a program called MG Growing Opportunities (MG-GO) which provides research-based horticulture education to teenage youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Under the guidance of UC Master Gardeners and a vocational horticultural therapist, incarcerated youth learn about ecosystem friendly, sustainable gardening. In the process, the youth acquire vocational and life skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, self-esteem, and leadership. The goals of MG-GO are to introduce sustainable gardening practices to an under-served population, highlight gardening as a healing endeavor, and develop a replicable model for statewide use.
The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 50 California counties and 6,048 active members, UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 385,260 hours last year and have donated more than 4.2 million hours since the program inception in 1981.
- Author: Aubrey Bray
Reappointment is now complete - along with digitally signing the appropriate documents to continue as a University of California Master Gardener you may have also heard about a fee for insurance.
Hartford insurance is for personal injury only and does not cover property damage, liability, or injury to any non-volunteer parties.
A separate Automobile Liability insurance covers volunteers acting in official capacity. Volunteers must confirm through an annual agreement that they meet UC minimum insurance requirements, commonly referred to as “50/100/50” and have a valid driver's license in order to qualify for this coverage.
This is often confusing for volunteers as fees for the Hartford Accident and Injury insurance are collected at reappointment time when volunteers identify whether they will drive on behalf of the University and are asked specifically about their vehicle insurance coverage. By opting not to drive for the University , volunteers are not exempt from needing Hartford Accident and Injury coverage.
Whether you are asked to pay the fee individually or the county program finances the fee for the group at large, every UC Master Gardener volunteer must be covered under the Hartford Accident and Injury Insurance.
For more information about Hartford insurance or to download a claim form click here.
- Author: Mary Louise Flint
- Editor: Melissa G. Womack
Dear Master Gardeners,
I was hired to create Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs for agriculture, but my interest in Master Gardeners started early. I remember attending the California State Fair in the early 1980's and being somewhat horrified to find the UC Master Gardeners answering questions using the Ortho Problem Solver and the Rodale Guide to Organic Gardening. I was told that they relied on these books because UC provided very little garden pest management information. This motivated me to write Pests of the Garden and Small Farm and later to hire Steve Dreistadt to compile Pests of Landscape Trees and Shrubs. From there we moved on to the Pest Notes, Quick Tips, UC IPM web site, UC IPM kiosk, our YouTube channel, blog and Twitter. Master Gardeners embraced and promoted all these products and now UCIPM is as well known for its home and garden information as for agricultural IPM.
I have loved teaching Master Gardener volunteers. They are the most enthusiastic students ever. I learn something every single time I go out and teach a class—and I've taught thousands of them. UC Master Gardeners inspire so much of what we do.
For example, it was Master Gardeners who stimulated our research on convergent lady
beetle releases for aphid control. All the published literature said releases weren't useful, but Master Gardeners challenged this idea. Over a 3-year study, Steve Dreistadt and I found that they were right, and we published several journal articles documenting the results.
Last but not least, thank you to all of you Master Gardener Coordinators. Each of you does an incredible job gently guiding and informing your enthusiastic volunteers. I have watched you in action and you do something special every day.