commentary on being a Master Gardener * something near and dear to my heart

The other day I was innocently looking thru my news feed on Facebook, when a post by the OSU (Oregon) Master Gardener Program caught my eye and got me reading.  She had shared this blog post  So, what do we think of “Master Gardeners”?.  In reading along the discussion quickly got interesting.  The topic went from downright bashing towards the Master Gardener community to passionate explanations and defense of the group by its supporters and members. And you know me, I couldn’t resist giving my two cents worth.  In response to another comment I wrote the following:

” if you need help ask an MG because if they don’t know it they surely can direct you to it.”

Tim, I think you have boiled down the entire organization’s purpose in one sentence. We are volunteers, dedicated to helping our Extension service by providing the support they need to help the public with home gardening questions and problems.

As with any organization, there are different personalities and not everyone will see eye-to-eye. That’s a given.

My question and problem with this whole conversation is the idea of changing the organizations name. Obviously most of us that are Master Gardener Volunteers now weren’t around when the program was founded. The name must have been chosen for a reason, and was given value by the work that was done under that name. Changing the name won’t fix the problems that have been voiced here, it will only confuse the public that is used to the name. (remember “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” ?)

Where I hail from the MG’s have earned their respect by providing positive support to our communities with various activities that include telephone hotlines, Q & A clinics at local events and farmers markets, and public outreach programs like Garden Discovery Day intended to educate the public on best practices for sustainable gardening.

I never assume that the training I received as a MG could replace someone that has been working in the field a lifetime, or someone that has University credentials in horticulture. I really believe it takes all of us as a community to reach out to the public with scientific and researched based info. And just remember that even the methods Thomas Jefferson practiced in his day were cutting edge, our world is continually evolving. Today’s best practices may not be tomorrows.

So much of what is right with this crazy world we live in is provided by the people that take their time to volunteer in their communities. Instead of bashing the organization as a whole, why not take the time to improve it if you are a member, or if not become a member and walk in the shoes of those of us that have given of our time (which is not renewable) and money (to become Master Gardener’s), in the hope of helping to create a better world for our kids and grand kids, as a way to become involved in our communities, and a place to make life-long friendships.

And for those of you who came before me as Master Gardener Volunteers, Thank you for your time and service to your communities.

Many of you know that I am pretty active in the Master Gardener Association in my county.  I am pretty passionate about the things that our group has accomplished over the years, and am very humbled by the footsteps I find myself following in.  I make no pretense about who I am, what education I have and what I offer to the community as a Master Gardener Volunteer.  I believe that my biggest asset is my willingness to learn, and my willingness to work, and share what I AM good at.  I see this echoed in every member of our group, and count my blessings for the friends that I have made since taking my training 5 years ago.

And don’t forget, the next time you have the chance, thank the un-paid volunteer working in your community, from the Mom’s and Dad’s that support scouting, the 4-H volunteers, Master Gardener Volunteers, and anyone that I haven’t listed.  Because our world is made better by those that spend their time volunteering.

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. Ghandi

The breeze, the trees, the honey bees – All volunteers! Juliet Carinreap

Today when I sat down at my computer I had planned to show you photos of the plants in my garden waking up for spring.  And I will put those photos up later. Today I would like to leave you with a few links, so you can learn more about this worthwhile organization and all that we as a group have accomplished as VOLUNTEERS.

OSU Extension Service Master Gardener™ Program  this link goes to my Alma Mater as it were, Oregon State

American Horticultural Society map of Master Gardener organizations in the U.S.  pretty nice resource

Oregon Master Gardener Association (OMGA)  another Oregon group I support

OSU Master Gardener Online

Clackamas County Master Gardeners  my own group’s webpage, where we post coming events and activities open to the public.

If you would like to see our chapter in action, head over to a few of my past postings about our annual Spring Garden Fair.

Sunday @ the Spring Garden Fair*  

Saturday @ the Fair*  

Setting it all up* Spring Garden Fair  

Pre post * Spring Garden Fair