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Recording Hours

Posted by carky z6 KY (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 1, 05 at 20:01

I write to ask whether your Master Gardener program has encountered difficulties in reminding (or convincing) members to turn in their volunteer and education hours? Several of our members are vehemently opposed to turning in the hours they have donated to the community. As I read the program guidelines there are very few requirements - in fact, only two! Earn the required number of education hours and donate the required number of community service hours on an annual basis.

If members don't record their hours and turn them in as required, we cannot determine whether the person is compliant with the program rules. In many cases we are confident the individual has donated the required hours, but simply refuses to turn them in. This ultimately hurts the organization because we do not have an accurate picture of the Master Gardener program's impact on our community.

Has your group had a similar experience? If so, how did you handle it? Also, when members are deficient, is a letter sent to them indicating program records show the person has not satisfied the education and/or volunteer hour requirement?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Recording Hours

I am one of the ones you speak of that adamantly refuse to turn in hours. I did it for 10 years and figured that's enough, especially since I was awarded Lifetime Master Gardener status and given a certificate that said I no longer had to turn in my hours. The Extension Service reneged on this promise. I still volunteered plenty and pay annual membership dues but because I stopped turning in hours I was for many years considered an inactive M/G and taken off some mailing lists. I have been a Master Gardener since 1980 and I donate plenty of hours, in fact, if all my gardening hours were counted such as writing articles attending seminars, speaking engagements, visitation, working at the Flower Show, being an auctioneer at plant auctions, creating a new theme garden for our demo garden and lots more, then I would be over the top. I finally relented and turned in my hours this year but we'll see how I feel next year. Keeping up with hours and records just makes it seem more like a job to me. It doesn't benefit me to turn in hours. I have heard of a suggestion where one person would keep up with everybodys hours. I wouldn't want to be that person.


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RE: Recording Hours

Hey there: I have to admit I have been very lax in turning in an accurate number of my hours. My reasoning was that so long as I turned in the number required to maintain my certification the rest didn't really matter. Another MG who has been involved in other volunteer programs put me straight. Those hours can be very influential in the dollar amount the program receives to support it. The committees that oversee budgets are much more likely to provide additional funds to a program that can report more hourly contributions and more effective contributions to the community. I have been trying to be better in keeping my records but I am really lousy at keeping track of it all. Sandy


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RE: Recording Hours

Eddie, Sleepless and a host of others,

I truly empathize with your feelings. In fact, my personal tendencies lean strongly in your direction. However, the flaw in your reasoning is the political reality of today's governmental bodies from whom funding comes.

Let me emphatically state up front that I HATE politics and I especially HATE being forced to participate in this smarmy process. However, the reality remains that governmental bean counters are wielding the knife. Quite frankly, silent parties or parties deemed to potentially make little noise when cuts are made, are soon targeted and declared as "wasteful fat". (See "Disturbing Trend" thread.)

Although my home state of Iowa borders Minnesota (who's Master Gardener program is one of the most endangered in the nation), we, although cautiously monitoring, have not seen that kind of response by our state legislature. However, the extension folks in Iowa have long taken a more aggressive approach to promoting and routinely reminding individual legislators of the vital roll Extension plays in every community throughout the state. And yes, Master Gardeners are a large part of that. Bean counters understand or care about little but they do feed on data. Convincing data is what you must supply. Unfortunately, that translates to us turning in our service hours.

I don't especially like the realities but I do know it works. Our local county was able to recently get a 1/4 cent tax increase soley to fund (and expand) the County Extension Program! (A tax increase in OUR county? -- By popular vote??? -- YIKES!) Iowa maintains one of the healthiest Extension programs (including Master Gardening) in the nation because we work the system. Some very astute folks saw potential legislative cuts long before they came up for debate. The entire Extension program has expanded programs widely into the urban areas and has not depended solely upon an ever smaller number of rural folks. Master Gardening obviously plays a major role in the expansion into urban areas. We have learned to toot our own horn (with data to back it up) lest we find that our neck is placed on the legislative chopping block.

I grit my teeth and turn in my hours.

IronBelly


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RE: Recording Hours

I am one of the ones you speak of that adamantly refuse to turn in hours. I did it for 10 years and figured that's enough, especially since I was awarded Lifetime Master Gardener status and given a certificate that said I no longer had to turn in my hours. The Extension Service reneged on this promise. I still volunteered plenty and pay annual membership dues but because I stopped turning in hours I was for many years considered an inactive M/G and taken off some mailing lists. I have been a Master Gardener since 1980 and I donate plenty of hours, in fact, if all my gardening hours were counted such as writing articles attending seminars, speaking engagements, visitation, working at the Flower Show, being an auctioneer at plant auctions, creating a new theme garden for our demo garden and lots more, then I would be over the top. I finally relented and turned in my hours this year but we'll see how I feel next year. Keeping up with hours and records just makes it seem more like a job to me. It doesn't benefit me to turn in hours. I have heard of a suggestion where one person would keep up with everybodys hours. I wouldn't want to be that person.


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RE: Recording Hours Revisited

Well, don't know how my post got on there twice? Thanks Ironbelly for your input. I'll admit my outlook is not always correct and i appreciate facts that enlighten me.


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RE: Recording Hours

I too have lifetime status but was told I must maintain the minimun hours to remain active which is 12 educational and 24 volunteer annually. Frankly it doesn't bother me so I do it. As I always say - go with the flow!

Penny


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RE: Recording Hours

The most important reason to turn in your hours is to give the government reason to continue to fund the program. If they can't "see" what is being done they will be more than happy to cut the program funds and BLOW it elsewhere.


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RE: Recording Hours

I don't mind turning in my hours, but what annoys me is filling out the mileage and contacts. Michelle in New Orleans


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RE: Recording Hours

If it is not documented it did not happen.
When things like the budget for master gardener and extension service programs are reviewed your documented hours serve as leverage. With volunteer hours they can show far more bang for the buck.


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RE: Recording Hours

Recording your hours is a PITA, but pity the poor Master Gardener who tallies them all up as a volunteer duty! The person in our group that does it is the nicest person in the world & really has a thankless task. He constantly has to beg members for their documentation.

Our agent needs the hours to turn in to justify the program & for funding purposes. So, come on people, turn in your hours!


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RE: Recording Hours

We request people turn in their hours because that's how the state determines if our group is worth funding or not. It is important to show that the MG program is working and that it is a worthwhile cause.


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RE: Recording Hours

Turning in hours is as important as the hours themselves, but few of us do it (myself included - i fudge). The problem we always encountered was who was doing what for whom and where. Not to mention who said yea/nay. The existance of the MG program was created to educate the public - if there is no evidence that we do that, then we cease to exist ( as pointed out above). The other problem encountered is that unless you are a certified and active status MG you cannot use the title MG in your talks and loose the umbrella insurance that the university/whoever has to cover you.
Politics also plays apart - I was put in charge of the hours for one season and promptly handed the matter over to the extension educator until we got together and sorted out a policy of what was and what wasn't hours (educational and volunteer) - I was president so could do that!!LOL
We had to face such questions as does weeding the church/school garden count?(maybe if other were there), does travel to a major flower show count as education (no). One lady did her hours by 'advising a neighbor on plantings and then going to the nursery to pick the plants and help plant them, then back to check there progress - total 25hrs volunteering (hmmm - I don't think so!!) . You are judge and jury though -not nice.


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RE: Recording Hours

I love being in the garden and hate paperwork. I just did mine early this year to get it over with before spring. We have a Flower Show in Traverse City, MI and we are having a booth there. I always enjoy the show and get a lot of hours there.


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RE: Recording Hours

I am a MG since 1991 and work for a non-profit. Many of our volunteers are MG's and we welcome each one! Since our funding is largely from grant monies, we encourage our folks to record hours. Most are willing to help with this when they learn that our grant applications request no. of volunteers and hours served. In one instance the figures we accrued qualified us for an additional $15k.
Of course the MG's need to turn in hours to extension to recertify, and some aren't interested in maintaining that status, only in working where it is fun and where they continue to learn.
We also have a MG Association in our area, and anyone can belong if they EVER completed the program(including the hours required for volunteering)
As volunteer coordinator, I appreciate the hours served by our dedicated group of volunteers, and hope that they feel appreciated and still want to offer their time and expertise in the future.
I hope that for all readers of this forum as well.


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RE: Recording Hours

We require active members each year to sign a certification stating they have met the yearly required volunteer hours to remain an active volunteer. Thus,filling out time sheets is very important to document hours. We have non certified members who do not meet requirements but went through the program and can participate in programs and activities but are not elegable for recognition awards. Recognition is given at the state level for volunteers who complete 5 and 10 years of service. Recognition is also given to those who contribute 500,1,000 and 5,000 hours of service..turn in those hours. Did you all not recieve the hand book when you became MGV;s? This book explanes many of the questions asked here in the forum. Thanks hope this helps


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RE: Recording Hours

As an MG trainee, I'm already seeing problems with people not recording hours and completing required projects. It is so easy to record hours...we log them in online! For those people without computer access, all they have to do is make a phone call. There are always those individuals who procrastinate and don't log them in at all. From what I've seen, our county lists people as inactive if hours are not maintained. There are many follow-up notices to encourage people to keep active and to log in their hours. I agree with many above that logging in hours and keeping active is essential to be counted as an active Master Gardener. You snooze, you lose.


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RE: Recording Hours

As a former Extension Educator, one of the hardest things we did was justifying our programs. Impact is the name of the game. "20 people worked 75 man-hours to start a community garden" is a good start. After all, volunteer organizations value volunteers at about $17.00/hour. But real impact comes when you start changing lives.

"During the course of the year, produce from the garden was delivered to 45 low-income familes including 65 children. Additionally, 12 families started their own garden plots on the site with the assistance of Master Gardener Volunteers. In addition to increasing access to nutritional foods, each family saved about $300 in food expenses for the year." Yes, I just made that up, but this is the kind of stories that your educators can use.

I had a Master Gardener who started a project as a volunteer and ended up with a new job! Is that impact? You bet! (Job training)

How about that Master Gardener who took a real interest in tree grafting, decided to start a business and now employs 12 people. (Economic Development)

And why stop there? Rather then just sending elected officials reports, invite them to you events!!!! I had a Master Gardener who went gung-ho about contacting elected state and local officials about what we were doing to impact the community including tourism, public awareness, and community service. We never seemed to get anyone to show up at our events, but they sure as heck knew what we were doing. She helped the Master Gardeners gain credability in the community and when we asked for something from the government or community, people sat up and listened. I was so glad to have Tracy around!!!!

Sorry to get a bit long winded about this, but if you value Master Gardeners, Extension, 4-H, or other Land Grand University supported programs, let someone know about it!!!!


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