To organize or not

gardener_sandyFebruary 21, 2006

We have a state MG organization but in our county we've always been a very loose group with no formal organization at all. We establish committees as projects arise but otherwise we just put in our hours in the various areas needed. Our county MG group is one of the most highly respected in the state (thanks in large part to our agents and secretary!) and others look to us for ideas and training.

Recently, a small movement has arisen toward establishing a more formal organization in our county. I'd love to hear your opinions on this. I tend to play "devil's advocate" and make people look at all the negatives before they plunge into something. But I know others really like this way of doing things and I don't want to discourage it either. I guess my main concern is will the formality of this take away from the hours we spend volunteering to help the community? How much time is needed to establish and keep such a group going? And do you have problems with certain "personalities" taking over and ending up driving some people away?

I'd especially like to hear from agents as to whether an organization is more helpful to them than just a group of volunteers. Does it free up more of your time or cause headaches that require time away from your usual work?

Thanks for any advice you can give me on this. If you don't mind, I plan to print out your replies and take them to a meeting we will have to discuss this next month. I won't print ID's so you will remain anonymous to our group.


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With any organization, I don't care what it is, there will always be a clique and there will always be politics. Those are facts of life that can't be avoided. That said, some of the best and earliest leadership will arise out of these cliques because these people have a sincere desire to lead and to be in charge. This is not bad as these people may have a vision and a direction for the club. A formal organization , in my opinion, is a good thing if you don't build too many restrictions into your bylaws. These organizations provide a central meeting place where friendships and life-long bonds are made.
Monthly meetings can have programs that provide education, entertainment or both. Also, there is strength in numbers. Avoid becoming too bureaucratic and let common sense prevail - meaning you don't always need a rule or a bylaw to cover every concievable situation. Make the meetings fun and people will come. Keep a sign up roster of who attends the meetings and look to this roster when it's time to recruit officers. The people who attend the most meetings are the people most concerned with the welfare of the organization. One big part of any club is fundraisers. Look for ways to raise funds that bring the greatest number of members together. Plant Sales are one good way but not the only way. If you don't have a group that meets monthly I would be concerned with the attrition that is bound to happen, plus bear in mind that most Master Gardeners are middle age so at some point may be unable to continue doing as much as they may be doing now.
The Master Gardeners, due to the fact they continuously turn out a new group of Interns, have the potential to become the biggest gardening entity in the history of gardening so don't be afraid to think BIG.

Here is a link that might be useful: bittersweetgardens

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 3:21PM
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In Suffolk County, L.I., N.Y. we found our society in conflict, at times, with the cooperative ext. and as a result have organized as Long Island Master Gardeners. We've a growing web presence at .

Here is a link that might be useful: Long Island Master Gardeners

    Bookmark   March 22, 2006 at 9:56AM
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Bobbill, what kinds of conflicts have arisen between the organized MGs and the extension? I guess you see the organization as a good solution to whatever problems you've encountered but do you feel it is taking the MGs away from their original purpose of being extra "hands" for the agents?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 9:26PM
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