- Author: Marisa A Coyne
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
- Author: Dr. Andrew Mason Sutherland
It's well known that the UC Master Gardener Program produces dedicated volunteers who are extremely knowledgeable about home horticulture and gardening. UC Master Gardener volunteers; especially those working at help desks, hotlines, and farmers markets, respond to thousands of requests each year, extending information and resources to California's residents that help them maintain landscapes, grow healthy food, and manage pests using the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).
Pests don't disappear at the front door, however: there are plenty of significant pests threatening our households, structures, and communities. In fact, residents in urban counties may have more need for information and resources associated with household pest IPM than for landscape and garden IPM. Even rural counties are filled with homes that may be infested by key urban pests such as ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, flies, termites, pantry pests, and rodents.
UC Master Gardener Programs have seen increasing numbers and rates of requests for information about these pests. Using the principles of IPM, household pests can be effectively managed while minimizing negative impacts to our communities and the environment. For instance, many unnecessary pesticide applications are made in urban environments, leading to pesticide exposure events, pesticide resistance issues, and environmental contamination, especially of urban surface water systems. In many cases, pests could have been managed using preventive or nonchemical tactics.
Whether in the home or in the garden, IPM is one of the key knowledge areas in which UC Master Gardener volunteers receive training. Using the UC IPM website and its materials, such as Pest Notes and Quick Tips, UC Master Gardeners are able to help answer household pest requests. Even so, volunteers familiar with plant ecosystems may not always feel confident when addressing pest problems in the home. Luckily, an advanced training opportunity exists for UC Master Gardener volunteers who would like to increase their proficiency in household IPM.
A continuing education module, entitled Advanced IPM Training for UC Master Gardeners: Household Pests, was developed by Dr. Andrew Sutherland, Urban IPM Advisor in the San Francisco Bay Area. This advanced training has been provided several times for UC Master Gardeners at in-person hands-on workshops, but it is also available online within UC IPM's IPM Resources for UC Master Gardeners web portal.
The module includes a PowerPoint presentation, word-for-word script, instructions on hands-on exercises associated with the presentation, and handouts providing detailed information about the pests covered. Help Desk leaders and other UC Master Gardener volunteers can use these materials to deliver the modules to other volunteers using a train-the-trainer model. The module can also be delivered to residential clientele directly. Pests discussed include: ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, pantry pests, termites, and other wood-destroying insects.
We encourage you to take advantage of this unique training opportunity, and become a local expert on household pests. As always, UC ANR Advisors like Dr. Sutherland are available to answer difficult questions and to provide more in-depth training, but this module can certainly help you build confidence and prepare you for that next bed bug request (you know it's coming!).
The updated continuing education module can be found at the following URL: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/FAQ/mghousehold.html
For questions about this Household Pests module, please contact Dr. Andrew Sutherland
- 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: Melissa G. Womack
The conference brings together dedicated volunteers, advisors, specialists and industry leaders from across the country to discuss the latest in home horticulture. Feedback from the previous conference and suggestions you provided via surveys, phone calls and committees shaped this year's sessions, speakers and schedule. Download the Registration and Tour Checklist before you start the registration process and prepare your conference journey.
$295 registration fee includes:
- 58 breakout sessions with first-class speakers
- 2 keynote speakers
- Welcome conference bag and water bottle
- Awards Banquet dinner
- Breakfast, lunch and snacks
- Conference activities: MarketPlace, Search for Excellence, Silent Auction, book signings … and more!
Special conference rate:
- $169 single/double occupancy
- $194 triple occupancy
- $219 quadruple occupancy
Make your reservation at the discounted conference rate online using the direct UC Master Gardener Conference link, or call (562) 491-1234. Remember to refer to the "UC Master Gardener Conference" room block when booking.
Conference tour offerings
- Explore the Huntington Botanical Gardens
- Go California Native!
- Community Engagement with Gardens and Nature
- Dramatic Gardens from the Desert to the Sea
- Los Angeles Farms and Garden History
- Visit the Activities – Tour webpage for more detailed information
This event only takes place every three years so don't miss this unique opportunity to learn, be inspired and make new connections. Please join us for this engaging event and we look forward to seeing you in Long Beach!