Helping Others Grow: Master Gardener Volunteers In Action

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field of sunflowers, one wearing a disposable face mask and sun hatRestrictions on gatherings have not deterred Master Gardener℠ volunteers and Extension agents from delivering science-based education and gardening advice during the pandemic. Over the past year, their creative and diligent efforts to provide gardening information and respond to questions from our state’s residents have helped keep North Carolina growing.

Here are just a few examples of Master Gardener volunteers in action helping others grow across North Carolina: 

Teaching Others to Grow

While unable to offer in-person classes, Master Gardener volunteers in Buncombe County have helped create videos that share information on a variety of topics including keeping a vegetable garden going year-round, propagating plants from cuttings, straw bale gardening, and managing garden pests. Volunteers invested considerable time learning how to use, present, and host educational programs via Zoom. Videos were then carefully close-captioned and posted on YouTube for the public. The experience has expanded volunteers’ presentation skills and made science-based gardening information available to a much larger audience.

Providing Solutions

Working with their horticulture agent, Master Gardener volunteers in Harnett County have adapted the typical operation of their gardening hotline to ensure county residents are able to get answers to their gardening questions throughout the pandemic. Instead of working in person from the local Extension center, volunteers are responding to questions from home by email, USPS mail, and cell phone. In addition to helping others grow during the pandemic, this new model ensures more consistent staffing of the hotline in the future.

Sharing Garden Advice

A partnership between Master Gardener volunteers in Vance, Warren, Granville, and Person Counties provides a new way for the public to interact with Extension. During weekly garden chats held on Zoom, participants are able to ask questions and receive research-based gardening advice. The chats also connect volunteers and members of the community during times of social isolation.

Extension Master Gardener program annual report cover

Additional stories of Master Gardener volunteers in action are featured in the NC State Extension Master Gardener℠ program 2020 annual report.

The Extension Master Gardener program operates in 84 of N.C. Cooperative Extension’s 101 local centers. Master Gardener volunteers support the mission of N.C. Cooperative Extension by connecting people to horticulture through science-based education and outreach.

Learn about becoming a Master Gardener volunteer or connect with volunteers in your community by contacting your local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center.

Support the work of Master Gardener volunteers across North Carolina by making a tax-deductible donation to the NC Extension Master Gardener endowment.