- Author: Melissa G. Womack
The Hyatt Regency was buzzing with activity as UC Master Gardener volunteers learned about the latest research in home horticulture at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Long Beach. New session topics, hands-on workshops and speakers were tailored to ensure the conference met attendees' continuing education and learning needs. The social media photo wall, book signing and conference commemorative pin provided a fun setting for participants to mingle and make memories to take home.
“[The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference] far exceeded anything I expected. It was amazing, I learned so much, and I feel a part of a bigger community now. I had no idea UC Master Gardeners were such a friendly, happy, fun and wonderful group of people. It really inspires me to stay in the program,” said one conference goer.
Welcome & keynotes
To kick-off the conference attendees were welcomed to Southern California by Keith Nathaniel, UC Cooperative Extension Director in Los Angeles County and Darren Haver, UC Cooperative Extension and REC Director in Orange County. “Southern California has so much to showcase for gardeners. We have undeniably beautiful landscapes in addition to serious environmental challenges,” said Haver. “The conference promotes citizen science in a way that makes me proud to be part of UC where I know my research reaches the people who will use it to make a difference.”
Following the warm welcome from the hosting counties, statewide director, Missy Gable applauded the program and its volunteer's accomplishments. Gable then invited participants to take the opportunity to network and build relationships across the state.
"The UC Master Gardener Program is an incredible network of volunteers, coordinators, advisors and experts from across California,” said Gable. "We were extremely excited to be able to learn together and most importantly celebrate the incredible impacts and accomplishments of our volunteers."
Two keynote speakers, Adam Schwerner, Director of Horticulture and Resort Enhancement at Disneyland Resort and Dr. Allen Armitage, Author, Lecturer and emeritus professor at the University of Georgia kept the audience inspired. Each speaker offered unique and different perspectives on gardening in public spaces and home horticulture. Schwerner encouraged each attendee to not be afraid of taking risks in the garden, and to develop a personal artistic flair that speaks to them through experimentation and most importantly having fun. Armitage shared his passion of home horticulture, offering a glimpse intro the historical foundation for various plants as well as sharing stories as sharing stories and light-hearted lessons from the field.
Sessions, sessions and more sessions!
With 58 break-out sessions and two keynote speakers there was a wealth of knowledge and experience available to all who attended the triennial conference. New this year was the option for attendees to register for special intensive sessions that offered unique or more in-depth trainings. Popular intensive sessions included, illustrated garden journaling, plant diagnostics, and Kirk Brown as John Bartram “America's 1st Master Gardener.”
Awards banquet and silent auction
Following an afternoon of inspiring guest and keynote speakers, attendees were invited to join together in the grand ballroom of the Long Beach Convention Center for the awards banquet and silent auction. Guests at the awards banquet were able to view and bid on beautiful baskets of local goods and handmade items, generously donated by local county programs and program supporters.
A special recognition and sincere thank you to the UC Master Gardeners of Ventura County for organizing and soliciting silent auction items. The silent auction was a huge success raising $7,910! All of the money raised is used to provide scholarships to UC Master Gardeners with a financial need at future conferences.
Celebrating the magic of volunteers
During the awards banquet volunteers who donated more than 5,000 volunteer hours were recognized and celebrated for their outstanding contributions to the University of California, our communities and our environment.
The magic of volunteers continued to be celebrated at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Volunteers with more than 5,000 volunteer hours were invited to an exclusive behind-the-scenes horticulture tour at Disneyland Resort, before the park opened to the public. The tour at Disneyland Resort was a rich experience full of industry insight into design, installation and maintenance, as well as what it takes to create the perfect seasonal landscape.
Join us in thanking and honoring volunteers in your county who reached new hour milestones since the 2014 conference:
Search for Excellence & photo contest winners
The top three winners for the Search for Excellence awards: Los Angeles, Orange and Marin counties were congratulated and presented their award certificates. Rachel Surls, advisor in UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County, gave an inspiring presentation about first-place winner – Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative was developed in response to the need for a curriculum for beginning vegetable gardeners in Los Angeles County.
The conference also had a photo gallery where attendees could view and vote on their favorite photo contest finalist. The last day of the conference started with a “hurray” and lots of “awwws” during the announcement of the 2017 UC Master Gardener Photo Contest's Gardeners Choice award which went to Tom Fernanz, Calaveras-Tuolumne Counties, for his adorable photo titled, “Lily and the Swallowtail.”
We hope you join us in 2020!
Many thanks to the numerous volunteer, host counties and conference planning committee members who made the 2017 conference a reality. Without their dedication and support the conference would not have been possible. We look forward to continuing the celebration of the program and the magic of its volunteers at the 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference in Northern California.
Do you have a suggestion for the next conference or feedback for this year's event? Let us know at ucanr.edu/mgfeedback.
- Author: Lauren Snowden
Congratulations to the 2017 UC Master Gardener Search for Excellence winners! UC Master Gardener Programs in Los Angeles, Orange and Marin counties are the top three winners of the Search for Excellence competition. The triennial Search for Excellence coincides with the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference taking place Aug. 22-25 in Long Beach, Calif.
The three winners were selected from a field of 27 outstanding entries, representing counties from throughout the state. The overall high quality of the projects submitted for review demonstrate the commitment that UC Master Gardener volunteers have to fulfilling our mission to extend UC research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of California. Congratulations to all that participated!
The winners are!
UC Master Gardener staff and volunteers in Los Angeles County noticed that the UC Master Gardener helpline was receiving more calls from beginning vegetable gardeners, reflecting a new trend documented by the National Gardening Association. In response to this trend the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative was created to meet the needs of beginning vegetable gardeners. Using a curriculum developed by staff, UC Master Gardener volunteers lead the four-session workshop series at community sites including libraries and schools. First piloted in 2010, the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative became popular with volunteers and participants alike. UC Master Gardeners lead more than 20 series annually. To date, more than one hundred UC Master Gardener volunteers have led or assisted 229 four-week classes at 40 community partner sites. This project has reached 3,140 participants to date.
UC Master Gardeners of Orange County host a weekly radio show on a multitude of garden-related topics targeted at the general public. The goal of the show is to distribute UC research based gardening, pest control, and water use best practices in an entertaining, season appropriate and informative manner. In the Garden with UC Master Gardeners reaches a population of more than 1.5 million people. The show is broadcast on the UC Irvine public radio station every Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. from the on-campus UCI radio studio; however, podcasts (digital audio files) of each show are available on-demand on the UC Master Gardener Program of Orange County public website. Clientele enjoy this easily accessible method of getting gardening information and expert tips.
Dig it, Grow it, Eat it is a two part portable field trip that engages school-age youth in learning about garden ecology and interdependence. UC Master Gardeners of Marin County lead learning stations that focus on growing edibles from seed to harvest. Students learn about edible plant parts, seed science, propagation, soil science, and pollination. These concepts teach and utilize mathematical skills and botanical concepts including germination and dissection. UC Master Gardener volunteers meet with classroom teachers before and after the field trip to help them learn about the science on display and conduct follow up lessons back in the classroom. Evaluation shows that Dig it, Grow it, Eat it increases knowledge of growing edibles, scientific method, healthy eating, happiness in gardens and the diversity of plants.
Amador County - Multiple Youth Programs
In response to inquiries from local schools and community groups asking for UC Master Gardener volunteers to provide hands-on garden education for youth Amador County UC Master Gardeners launched three successful youth programs. To address this need for youth education volunteers began assisting with field trips, public classes and a 4-H project. The program goal was to reach 200 young people in 2015 and have every 5th grade class in Amador County offer a field trip to a local farm. UC Master Gardeners collaborated with a variety of locations throughout the county including the UC Cooperative Extension office and teaching garden, Amador County Fairgrounds for Farm Day and Hundred Acre Farm. UC Master Gardeners partnered with local schools, Farms of Amador and the 4-H Youth Development Program.
Ventura County - Asian Citrus Psyllid Action Team Model
In response to the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) threat, the UC Master Gardeners of Ventura County created an outreach and education program that includes speakers. ACP and the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease that it vectors has the potential to destroy the citrus industry in California; which produces 41% of all citrus grown in the United States, generating in excess of $3.4 billion in revenue. Through partnering with local agencies and taking advantage of speaking events UC Master Gardeners are distributing printed ACP/HLB information as well as attending neighborhood meetings to educate the public.
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 UC Cooperative Extension county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR).
The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from the University of California, UC Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 50 California counties and 6,297 active members, UC Master Gardener volunteers donated more than 328,540 hours last year and have donated more than 5 million hours since the program inception in 1981.
- Author: Sam Foushee
This is is the second in a series of short articles on the benefits we receive from the Statewide Master Gardener Office. The Office coordinates a Statewide Master Gardener conference every few years, with the last one being in Santa Rosa in 2011. Conferences have previously been held at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, San Jose, and Sacramento. They are always stimulating, informative, and enjoyable. They also are a tremendous amount of work, and the state office is essential in making it happen.
The next conference will be in 2014. The results of a statewide poll are now in, and the preference for location was heavily in favor of the Tenaya Lodge near the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. The Tenaya is a beautiful facility in a gorgeous location, and I'm certainly looking forward to spending a few days there when 2014 rolls around!
What are some of your favorite memories from past conferences? Will you attend Master Gardener Conference 2014?