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by Nate Walton, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, MSUE-Leelanau County
Increasing technology in the workplace has its benefits…and its costs. One of the greatest costs, as I see it, is the devaluing of time. Technology allows us to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which also means that more is expected of us for the same rate of pay. In many modern jobs, employees are paid based on the time spent at work rather than the value of their output. In addition, there is also an implicit (or even explicit) expectation that you should be “available” outside of normal work hours as well. The result of this combination is a perceived (or real) reduction in the value of our time. But do not despair! There is a solution.
Michigan’s Extension Master Gardener volunteer program is undergoing some changes in 2018 in order to meet the standards set by the Extension Master Gardener National Committee. Since its inception in 1972, the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program has grown from a small volunteer program in a single state, to a program with over 90,000 volunteers in 49 states and 10 Canadian provinces. With this growth has arisen a need for the national entity to set standards that ensure the sustained growth and effectiveness of all state and county programs as they work to fulfill the EMG mission. Our Michigan EMG program meets or exceeds the majority of those standards with one exception: our annual hours required for re-certification.
In order to bring our state program in line with the minimum national standards, the Michigan EMG committee, with input from individual EMGs, EMG groups and EMG associations, will be increasing the annual volunteer and continuing education hours needed to re-certify by five hours each, effective January 1, 2018. This means that in order to re-certify next January (2019) all Michigan EMGs will need to complete and report in the VMS by Dec. 31, 2018, a minimum of 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours. MSUE staff and VMS Ambassadors will do our best to help you be successful in meeting these standards in 2018.
As you can see, your time spent gardening is still perceived as extremely valuable, so valuable in fact that we are asking for more of it! Gardening is an activity that, thankfully, has escaped many of the costs of modern technology. So this spring you can rejoice as you turn off your electronic devices and spend some valuable hours gardening and educating your community as a Master Gardener Volunteer!
Nate Walton, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, MSUE-Leelanau County
Looking back on 2017, for me it was a year of firsts. I had my first day on the job as your Master Gardener Coordinator on June 12th, my first visit to a biodynamic tea farm (Light of Day Organics) and the first MSU Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic staffed by Master Gardeners in Benzie County! The list could go on and on, especially if I included some of the new EMG projects started this year. With a combined workforce of 123 certified EMGs and trainees, you all have really been working hard for positive change in our northern Lower Peninsula communities this year.
In recognition of all that you have accomplished, I also had the great pleasure of hosting my first EMG awards luncheon this year in partnership with MGANM. Highlights of the luncheon included the wonderful decorations by the MGANM decorations committee (chaired by Evelyn Laman), the silent auction with many unique items donated by local businesses and artisans and the deeelicious lunch catered by 9 Bean Rows of Suttons Bay.
During the awards ceremony, honors were bestowed upon Kelly Dillan, Sue Soderberg and Sue Warren, all of whom received their 500 hour pins this year!
-We also welcomed the newly certified EMGs Paula Ciccone, Sandy Coobac, Victor Dinsmore, Christine Koubek, Julia Page, Nancy Popa, Michael O’brien, Lori Piggot and Amy Tongue to our ranks.
-In addition, Joanne Johnsen, Becky Johnson and Glynis Waycaster were all recognized for achieving Advanced Master Gardener status.
– We also delivered well-deserved 250 hour pins to Sandra Clark, Michele Buday, Nancy Larson, Kathy Pilon, Lori Oberson, Judith Reich, Cynthia Sack, Steve Stephens and Marvin Walter.
-Ann McInnis was also recognized for the remarkable achievement of topping the 2500 hours mark this year!
-Our Master Gardeners of the Year this year were Tom Patton for Leelanau County, Sue Warren for Benzie County and Rebecca Mang for Grand Traverse County.
Let these happily hard-working EMGs be an inspiration to all of us as we move into the New Year!
Speaking of the New Year, 2018 is shaping up to be another great year for our local EMG program. We will be hosting an EMG training program at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (March 8th – June 14th) on Thursday evenings (5:30 – 9:30 pm). Enrollment is open and can be accessed by following this link. Please tell your friends, family and neighbors about this exciting opportunity to join the Master Gardener Volunteer program! Also, let me know if you would be interested in helping out with the course in any way and/or if you would be interested in serving as a Mentor to a new trainee. Stay tuned for more ways to volunteer this winter/spring and in the meantime, have a great 2018!