Well, the subject pretty much says it all...bring on the good stuff!
Without a doubt it's the people -- the MGs, the agents and staff, and the clients we serve. Gardening is great fun and all that but it can be a lonely enterprise. The best part is sharing with others who love gardening as much as I do.
Now if you're looking for specific activities, our Grass Roots program is the top of the heap in my opinion. This is designed to help homeowners do the very best job of having a nice lawn and being responsible users of chemicals at the same time. We're in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and pollution from lawn chemicals is a big issue. One of our major goals is to help reduce that pollution by proper use of home fertilizers and pesticides. When requested, we prepare guides designed for specific lawns. They include amounts and proper timing for application of the chemicals as well non-chemical suggestions for better lawns. We're very proud of this program and the state MG/Extension is looking into adopting it for every county.
I believe it is our educational outreach to the gardening public. During the summer we man plant clinics at local farmers markets and during the winter we put on garden workshops in the local libraries. The workshops we try and make the subject timed for the planting or pruning or composting relative for that time of the year. We usually have between 20 and 40 for each workshop and we can present the latest thinking from the university. Al
This is interesting, a post asking what's good about your MG program has 2 replies, 3 counting mine, but the posts about least favorite topic and MG attrition rate have a lot.
Are there fewer positive aspects to the program than we want to admit,or are we just more vocal on the negatives?
Guess I should've posted something positive huh?
To me the best part of our MG program is the people, well most of the people. Our group is in a transition phase right at the moment and is suffering growth pains. 'Nuf said about that.
Our phone hotline is really good. At the moment that's probably our best feature, great people there too!
The info about continuing education opportunities.
Griping and dismay tend to get more air time in general, not just in regard to Master Gardening. "A satisfied customer will tell one other person, an unhappy one twelve others." Shocks are what jolt us into action.
Being an MGV makes me feel like I have sunshine all year long..Still being involved with plants and like minded people during the winter months. I have more reasons to smile, thinking about all the wonderful friends who give time and talent throughout the year. Just as in life we do not hang out with negative folks this is the same in MGV's.
Here is a link that might be useful: MGV's of Forsyth Co. NC
Helping educate people about the environment. Impacting young children in the schools and being a friendly informative voice especially to elderly who have no one else to ask and cannot find their way around the web!
Give it more time and I'm sure this post will attract more replies. The first thing that came to my mind was "The People" but, like Sandy says, gardening can be a lonely endeavor. I know of no other MGV in my county and probably the state that shares my interest in grafting and in edible landscaping with such unusual plants that can be grown in north Georgia such as pineapple guava, pawpaw, seedless American persimmon, kiwi, English walnut, just to name a few. Back to the people, I became certified in 1980 and am still active. I have made lifetime friends through the Master Gardener program. Of course over that long a period you can imagine there were a few bumps in the road but I'm still there and plan to stay. Most of my volunteer time goes to the Demonstration Garden focusing on the compost pile and the orchard. Every spring myself and another Master Gardener who is also my best friend, teach a two week gardening class to senior citizens. One thing I have learned from teaching this class is that people start out as children, become adults, then as we get older we revert to being children again.
eddie ,you hit the nail on the head. We can all be great garden gurus but with Master Gardener Volunteers it is more about the people we help. You must possess or LEARN people skills and be willing to concentrate how to help others .
Many times people are grieving for a diseased plant,it could have had sentimental value.Sometimes they are feeling depressed because a plant dying makes them feel like a failure.Being in Florida we get many Top Gardeners from the north who come here thinking they can grow 12 months a year and want the same monster tomatoes and killer zuchinis only to discover they must cope with 12 months of bugs, lifeless sand,scorching heat ,and fungus from humidity. These once confident gardeners given the right tools and materials to educate them will soon be back to picking tomatoes but will have learned to do it in a different way. One new to the area gal wanted to cut down her 3 dead pine trees. I lived nearby and decided to take a look as pine borers have been killing many trees. It was winter and they were not pines but 2 bald cypress and a jacaranda tree!
Thankfully she asked for help before cutting them down!
An elderly woman was concerned about her gardening efforts at her age and how she could still amend her soil when she cannot lug 40 lb bags around any more. Mentioning how helpful red wagons are in my garden her voice lit up with excitement .Seems she had one in her garage and loved the idea of putting it to use.
These people become our friends and friends are better to collect then gardening awards.
That's what makes Master Gardening worthwhile.
I got into the Master Gardener's program to learn.
What I find though is that I am gleaning greater rewards than just knowledge.
I am making friends with others who share the same passion for gardening.
I love the aspect that we are required to give back through our volunteer hours, helping others who are perplexed with their gardening problems.
It goes way beyond just the 40 hours required, it is an honest desire to serve and to help others, friends made along the way that makes MG so rewarding to me.
That is exactly why MG was created, teach one, who can turn around and teach many...because of love. Love for gardening, love for others.