Information about the MG Program for Facilitators
The MG Program is designed to train volunteers to assist Extension, thereby expanding the capacity of the Extension staff, expanding access to audiences, and enhancing consumer horticulture programs and education. The MG Program is not meant to be a substitute for providing educational programs to the public, nor is it intended to train “green industry” personnel. Volunteers are expected to provide unbiased, research based, environmentally sound educational assistance to the gardening public. These volunteers allow Extension to extend education to an ever-increasing audience. It also provides a highly visible way to meet the public demand for information and develop a strong volunteer staff.
The MG Program should be presented as a part of UW-Extension. For example, instead of saying “There will be a MG plant clinic…” the preferred way is ”UW-Extension will conduct a plant clinic… MGVs will be on hand to help with your plant questions.” University of Wisconsin, UW Extension, and MG logos and letterhead can only be used when conducting official university business (educational in nature).
One of the potential benefits of the program is the ability of the Extension agent to spend less time answering routine horticulture-related questions from the general public and spend more time on other programming. A MG Volunteer staff can be trained and utilized to expand access to traditionally underserved audiences and generally enhance program delivery. Leadership development of volunteers is an important component of the program. There are many advantages in developing a volunteer staff; however, it can be a major undertaking – especially the first few years. In addition to the general training, time must be planned for volunteer supervision and leadership development. The decision to develop a MG program should be based on local needs, opportunities for volunteer assistance with consumer horticulture education, and available resources.
Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) operate under Extension organizational policies in delivering information to the public. County programs are supported by a State MG Program Coordinator and Extension specialists at UW-Madison. Participants in the program must complete the general training class, pass an examination, sign the Volunteer Agreement, and volunteer a minimum of 24 hours within one year of completing the coursework to become a Certified MGV. Annual recertification requires completion of a minimum of 24 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education each year.
The county Extension agent will be responsible for:
- Screening and selecting potential volunteers
- Providing the general training class
- Placing and supervising volunteers
- Assuring nondiscrimination and expanding access under federal and state laws and UW-Extension policies
- Determining what counts as volunteer service in their county
- Assessing program needs
- Volunteer recognition
- Volunteer evaluation and feedback
- Educational liaison to the local MG Association (if there is one)
- Leadership development
Some of these activities can be delegated to individual MGVs or the local MG Association, but the Agent must remain involved and informed, and is still ultimately responsible (and therefore should be the one to make all critical decisions).
Policies (including liability, MGV transfers, etc.)
Program Resources (links to other websites on finances, grant writing, leadership, lobbying, nonprofits, public speaking & presentations, working with volunteers, etc.)