Advanced master gardener training to improve service at plant clinics

Theresa Badurek

Abstract


The objective of this project was to increase the knowledge, skills, and confidence levels of our plant clinic Master Gardener volunteers. This agent created an advanced Master Gardener training series to accomplish this. First, a list of critical plant clinic knowledge was identified. The topics chosen were: advanced plant identification; questions to ask clients; what resources (text and electronic) to use; using a microscope; advanced plant pathology for Master Gardeners; common problems of fruit and vegetable crops; landscape and household pest identification and control; and weed identification and control. These topics were divided into ten three-hour classes to be held once a month. Next, a prerequisite of at least eight hours of volunteer service per month at any one of our plant clinic locations was required to qualify for this series. We did this to ensure that the training would be put to use educating clients and not used solely for personal enrichment. We have completed six of the ten classes as of February 2014 and plan to complete the series in June 2014. The results of the program so far have been very positive. Although it is sometimes difficult to evaluate the impact of this training on our clientele we have noted a decrease in the Master Gardeners reliance on the horticulture staff to answer many client questions. The Master Gardeners taking the classes have reported an average of 60% increase in knowledge over the course so far and report feeling more confident when working with plant clinic clients.

 


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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283