2024 journal article

Dynamic Volunteer Engagement and Impactful Educational Outreach Taking Us into the Next 50 Years of the Extension Master Gardener Program

HORTTECHNOLOGY, 34(1), 8–12.

By: H. Kirk-Ballard*, K. Lang*, E. Mcginnis*, K. Smith* & L. Bradley n

author keywords: cancer; COVID-19; online tools; youth
Source: Web Of Science
Added: February 12, 2024

According to the 2021 Extension Master Gardener (EMG) National Summary, the EMG Volunteer Program had an estimated 84,700 volunteers throughout the United States. These volunteers helped communities garden and grow food, provided opportunities to engage in activities that improved physical and mental health, and worked on projects that addressed environmental issues. In total, these programs contributed 3.1 million hours of education to local communities and $88 million dollars in value to the public. However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for the program, with many states implementing reduced requirements and increased flexibility for volunteers. The workshop “Dynamic Volunteer Engagement and Impactful Educational Outreach Taking Us Into the Next 50 Years of the EMG Program” at the 2022 ASHS conference discussed how to engage EMG volunteers despite the limitations of limited in-person contact. The workshop featured three Extension educators and EMG coordinators who shared their experiences and strategies for engaging volunteers during the pandemic. Topics discussed included engaging volunteers in local food systems and community gardens, engaging students in horticulture at an earlier age, and digital volunteer opportunities. Overall, the workshop provided valuable insights and facilitated discussions on how to adapt and continue the EMG program during challenging times.