Master Gardener Blog
It's reappointment time for the UC Master Gardener Program! Before the reappointment process begins we would like to say thank you. Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of the UC Master Gardener Program. You make our program impact possible. We hope you'll join us for another year of extending research-based home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape information to Californians.
We realize the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on planned spring activities across the state. After thoughtful consideration to the current crisis, volunteers who choose to remain active and reappoint will be approved, regardless of the number of volunteer or continuing education hours completed this year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). Further, volunteers will not be responsible for making up any incomplete volunteer and continuing education hours in the following program year. See Q2 in the quick tips and FAQ section of this blog for instructions on how to complete reappointment if you have not completed your hours. Please note that all volunteers are still required to log completed hours in VMS, even if the number of completed hours falls short of program requirements.
Annual reappointment is a requirement for all volunteers working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Please read this update thoroughly and direct any questions regarding the reappointment process to your program's UC Master Gardener Coordinator, Advisor, or County Director. Reappointment will be taking place from June 1 through July 31, 2020, across the state of California. The process for reappointment can be done in 3 easy steps!
Step One: Select “Please Complete!” in VMS
• Log into VMS, vms-mg.ucanr.edu/
• Select “Please Complete!” under "Reappointment" in right column of your VMS home screen
Step Two: Complete all three sections to fulfill county requirements for participation
Step Three “A”: Verify Date Completed Displays and Print a Copy for your Records
Once you complete reappointment, the reappointment window will no longer appear on your VMS screen.
Step Three “B”: Submit Insurance Fee (if required in your county)
The UC Master Gardener Program requires a $6.00 fee to cover accident and injury insurance. This fee is either collected locally county personnel, paid for by county fundraising, or combined with a county membership fee. All active, limited-active volunteers should contact their local UC Cooperative Extension program Coordinator, Advisor or County Director for more information about their county requirements and, if required, how to submit a payment.
Quick Tips and FAQ's:
Q1: Who must complete the reappointment process?
The reappointment process is mandatory for all UCCE Master Gardeners with the following status and achievement including:
Active AND Limited Active
• First Year Master Gardener
• Master Gardener
• Gold Badge
• Platinum Badge
Q2: What should I do if I was unable to complete my volunteer hours or continuing education hours as a result of Covid-19?
When prompted, select the “Not Completed Hours, Seeking Reappointment” dropdown option. In the optional description text box, write “Covid-19.” All volunteers must complete reappointment in order to remain active or limited active in the UC Master Gardener Program. Volunteers will not be responsible for making up any incomplete volunteer and continuing education hours in the following program year.
Q3: How many hours do I need to volunteer for reappointment?
The minimum hour requirements have been waved for this reappointment year, see Q2 above. The minimum hours required to remain a certified UC Master Gardener volunteer are:
• 25 hours - Volunteer
• 12 hours - Continuing education
Note: First-year UC Master Gardener volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 50 volunteer hours (no continuing education requirement) before the next certification cycle.
Q4: What is the date range for calculating hours for reappointment?
Hours should be reported for the period of July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020.
Q5: Where do I send my payment?
Please check with your county Coordinator, Director, or Advisor about fees and where and how to submit payment. The statewide office does not collect fees or payment directly from volunteers for reappointment. You can find contact information for county personnel here.
Due to circumstances related to the worldwide pandemic, the 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference has been postponed to 2021. The decision to postpone the conference was due to current group size limitations, travel restrictions, speaker availability and cancellations, and reduced staff capacity.
We are happy to report that we were able reschedule the conference at the same location, the Granlibakken Resort in Lake Tahoe for Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, 2021.
2020 Alternative Online Conference Activities
Planning is ongoing to move some immediate conference activities online. Stay up to date on the latest conference news by reading this blog and checking your email for updates from the statewide office. Stay tuned for information on online lunchtime horticulture themed webinars, photo contest and the announcement of 2020 Search for Excellence winners!
2020 Search for Excellence in Full Swing
The Search for Excellence (SFE) competition is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the tremendous talents of UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state. County programs were invited to submit educational and innovative projects for consideration, the application window closed on April 28 with 17 applications.
The published online SFE timeline for judging, awarding and presenting have been adjusted to accommodate a new celebration and recognition plan. Typically, SFE winners are featured on the statewide blog and in-person at the statewide conference through poster and breakout sessions. SFE winners will still be celebrated on the statewide blog as planned. New this year, we are going virtual with online webinars for all top three SFE winners to share their projects.
We thank you for your support as we all work through this! We are grateful for the understanding of UC Master Gardener volunteers, coordinators, advisors and county directors as we continue to work hard to ensure that our future event is met with the same enthusiasm and learning opportunities. Sincere gratitude to our conference location the Granlibakken Resort and several tour providers who were able to work with us to reschedule such a large event.
UC Master Gardener Volunteers are excellent teachers and community educators whether they've been with our program for one year or twenty! The two extraordinary volunteers featured in this article are early in their UC Master Gardener Volunteer involvement but have already made themselves indispensable.
Borah Lim – Los Angeles and Yolo Counties
“My biggest dream is for humans and humus to dwell in harmony and community among all living things in our ecosystem.” – Borah Lim
As a Korean-American, born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Borah reports that she was not interested in agriculture until she attended Williams College, a small liberal arts school located in rural Massachusetts. After graduating, she was inspired to reconnect youth with the soil in her home state by her friends and colleagues at the Garden School Foundation.
Borah completed the UC Master Gardener Program training in Los Angeles County, with a special interest in teaching gardening and cooking classes at Title I elementary schools. Borah's desire to connect with people and the land did not stop there. In 2019, Borah moved to Yolo County to pursue a graduate degree in International Agricultural Development at UC Davis. Upon arriving in Davis, Borah transferred to the UC Master Gardener Program in Yolo County and dreamed up a project to bring gardening and food systems education to populations with inadequate access to healthy, fresh produce.
Food access and food insecurity have recently emerged as severe and pervasive problems at college campuses across the United States. Through gardening workshops at the UC Davis Student Farm, Borah hopes to increase direct access to healthy, affordable, sustainably grown produce for the UC Davis student community. Borah's optimistic these workshops will bridge this UC Master Gardener Program with the UC student community – inspiring college students to pursue the UC Master Gardener Program training and join its volunteer network of gardeners and environmental advocates in the future.
After graduating, Borah aspires to expand the field of agricultural education and food and faith movements, working alongside communities towards sustainable solutions and agricultural justice within our local and global food system. With the First-Year Seminar she's planning to offer this fall at UC Davis, Borah's “biggest dream” is off to a healthy start!
Ted Hawkins – Stanislaus
“Do all Master Gardeners have this much fun while teaching and learning?” – Ted Hawkins
In 2019 when Stanislaus County offered its inaugural UC Master Gardener Program Training, Ted Hawkins was first in line. Ted has always been interested in gardening and sharing information with community members. The UC Master Gardener Program was a great fit!
Ted's extensive knowledge of vermicomposting and other topics, combined with his outgoing personality, and his can-do attitude immediately drew his fellow volunteers. It didn't take long for Ted to notice how his prior knowledge overlapped with the program's needs. A longtime woodworker, he built beautiful boxes that were we used at a succulent workshop. Proceeds from the workshop raised much-needed funds for the program, enabling the UC Master Gardener Program in Stanislaus to purchase a popup tent for outdoor events.
Now a First-Year Master Gardener, he arrives early on each training day to help with set up. He makes sure the coffee is ready and that all of the Trainees have the materials they need. “I personally benefit from knowing that someone I can count on will be here each week. As a new coordinator, I have been honored to have someone like Ted work with me,” says UC Master Gardener Program coordinator in Stanislaus County Anne Schellman.
While relatively new to the UC Master Gardner Program, Borah and Ted bring a rich set of skills and experiences to the communities they serve. From sustainable agriculture education to carpentry and beyond, First Year Master Gardeners are proof that the students have become the teachers!
About Gardeners with Heart
Special appreciation to UC Master Gardener Program Coordinators Stanislaus (Anne Schellman) and Los Angeles (Valerie Borel) for sharing the stories of these incredible Gardeners with Heart.
Gardeners with Heart: First Year Master Gardeners are Second to None
It's no secret that UC Master Gardener volunteers wear many hats. Fortunately for the UC Master Gardener Programs in Lake, Ventura, and Contra Costa Counties, three extraordinary volunteers bring their work experience with them into their home gardening volunteer efforts!
Merry Jo Velasquez – Lake County
Merry Jo Velasquez is a busy full time medical researcher, a volunteer with her local Resource Conservation District (RCD), and member of the Blue Ribbon Committee for the Rehabilitation of Clearlake, in addition to being an active UC Master Gardener volunteer in Lake County.
“Merry Jo knows how to do research, because that's what she does for a living in the medical field. Applying this skill to horticultural projects comes naturally to her,” says Gabriele O'Neill, program coordinator in Lake County. Merry Jo's ability to do research and her many connections with land-based organizations have been personally and organizationally fruitful. She authored a UC Master Gardener Program in Lake County publication for local gardeners titled the Lake County Ornamental Gardening Guide.
Her community involvement and warm personality helped a strong connection between the UC Master Gardener Program in Lake County and the RCD, leading to collaborations on local restoration projects. Merry Jo's knowledge of California native plants made her an excellent fit for fellow volunteer Jerry Marquis' rehabilitation effort on of the grounds of a historical stagecoach stop and museum.
Balancing work and volunteer commitments is innate to Merry Jo – you might say she wrote the book on it!
Harry Lee – Ventura County
Harry Lee is a lifelong vegetable gardener, full-time accountant and a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Ventura County. Harry joined the UC Master Gardener Program because he was looking for a volunteer opportunity that aligned with his interests and provided a contrast from his professional life in finance. Fortunately for his fellow volunteers, Harry did not leave his personal and professional skills at the garden gate.
Harry has extensive experience as an accountant and utilizes those skills as the Ventura County program's treasurer. Harry's extensive home gardening trials and experiential garden knowledge make him an incredibly successful teacher, both for new UC Master Gardener trainees and members of the public. His impeccable home trials have also made him a great fit for helping Ventura County's farm advisors with research projects.
Harry's diverse skill set and comprehensive education, from number-crunching to bed preparation, have made him a true asset to the UC Master Gardener Program in Ventura County. “Harry wears more hats than anyone else in the program - literally and figuratively. The man owns a lot of hats! Harry's contributions to the program are innumerable and his commitment to the UC Master Gardener Program is unrivaled,” says Alexa Hendricks, program coordinator in Ventura County.
Darlene DeRose – Contra Costa County
Darlene DeRose joined the UC Master Gardener Program in Contra Costa County with a commitment of getting the program out into the community. Darlene was drawn to the UC Master Gardener Program during the same year she earned a certificate in ecotherapy, which focuses on reconnecting people with nature as a form of healing individual and collective suffering. With its focus on research-based education, the UC Master Gardener Program provided a platform and resources for Darlene to venture into the community and reconnect people with the world that surrounds them.
Under her leadership, the UC Master Gardener Program in Contra Costa County has grown to support more than twenty diverse community gardens - at residential treatment centers, sober living facilities, and affordable housing communities.
During her time as a UC Master Gardener volunteer, Darlene has assembled and inspired a dedicated group of UC Master Gardeners, inspiring them to commit to teaching their communities about growing food and empowering them to generate new ideas to accomplish this goal. “Darlene is simply amazing -- she's a great listener and innovator. She observes community needs, asks questions, and creates space for ideas to percolate, grow and evolve,” according to Dawn Kooyumjian, program coordinator in Contra Costa County. Darlene's ecotherapy training has had a positive impact on community members, fellow volunteers, and program leadership.
The UC Master Gardener Program is exceptional because volunteers like Merry Jo, Harry, and Darlene bring their unique skills and strength to the everyday work of extending home horticulture information to Californians. As we celebrate the work of volunteers during National Volunteer Week, we also celebrate the breadth and depth of knowledge brought by volunteers with careers.
About Gardeners with Heart
Special appreciation to UC Master Gardener program coordinators in Contra Costa (Dawn Kooyumjian), Ventura (Alexa Hendricks), and Lake (Gabriele O'Neill) for sharing the stories of these incredible Gardeners with Heart.
National Volunteer Week
A longtime elementary school teacher with a love of succulents, Jessica was attracted to the UC Master Gardener Program by a desire to share her interest in unusual plants and her experience in education. Jessica and a team of UC Master Gardener volunteers created an oasis of succulents with paths, benches, and educational signage. Jessica approaches every walk through the garden as an opportunity for a visitor to learn. As one volunteer observed, “Jessica is incredibly good at educating as she goes. Just working alongside her in the garden you learn a lot."
In addition to the original Mediterranean and succulent gardens, the ever-evolving demonstration gardens currently include a California native plant garden; a fragrant bee garden; a habitat garden with an emphasis on pollinators and beneficial insects; a diversity garden demonstrating water-wise practices and a moon garden - a quiet refuge of grey and white foliage designed to reflect the light of the moon in the dark of night. Along the way, Gail and Jessica have combined their strengths and unique skills to develop the teaching gardens, and assembled teams of enthusiastic UC Master Gardener volunteers to continue to support the project's needs.
Thanks to Gail and Jessica, the Falkirk Cultural Center demonstration gardens have become an interactive educational space where UC Master Gardeners conduct workshops and host educational events for the public. Using the seven gardens as an outdoor classroom, UC Master Gardener volunteers teach Marin residents about a wide variety of sustainable gardening practices.
Even though Gail and Jessica and their team have built seven demonstration gardens, they are not finished. Gail is currently designing an eighth garden at the Falkirk Cultural Center to demonstrate landscapes that help reduce the risks presented by wildfires. Jessica continues to educate new volunteers about succulent propagation and care – feeding a sense of wonder and curiosity that these volunteers will, in turn, share with Marin residents. Gail and Jessica's story of collaboration is further proof of Gail's sentiment -- that making something together IS more fun!
About Gardeners with Heart
During National Volunteer Week (April 19 – 25), the UC Master Gardener Program celebrates the contributions of its 6,000 incredible volunteers. The UC Master Gardener Program is excited to share stories of special volunteers Gardeners with Heart from across the state. Gardener's with Heart volunteers were nominated by their local county leadership for their creativity, strategic thinking, passion for the program's mission and commitment to program delivery. To nominate a Gardener with Heart in your program or county complete this online survey.
Gardeners with Heart will be celebrated throughout the year on social media, in blog posts, on our website, and in the 2019 annual report!
Thank you to UC Master Gardener Program in Marin County Co-Presidents Kathy Hunting and Rod Kerr for submitting Gail and Jessica for Gardeners with Heart recognition. Look out for more great stories of Gardeners with Heart throughout National Volunteer Week (April 19 – 25, 2020).