Posts Tagged ‘international master gardener conference’

2013 Search for Excellence Award First Place – Special Needs Audience

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

“My Little Green Friends” Horticultural Therapy Program at Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota

The “My Little Green Friends” program is in its 27th year of partnering with Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. The program serves hospital patients–generally between the ages of 3 and 20–plus parents, siblings and visiting friends.

Proud Patient in the 'My Little Green Friends Program'

Proud Patient in the ‘My Little Green Friends Program’

Horticultural projects are usually conducted with children on a one-to-one basis in the patient’s room or playroom. There are approximately 35 projects in all, each documented with an activity plan that includes the project purpose, materials needed, and activity procedure, thus assuring consistency among different Master Gardener volunteers, and from year-to-year. A project typically takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Separate projects are designed for children who cannot be exposed to soil.





Project examples and learning outcomes include:

  • Houseplant Zoo Various plants with names that suggest an animal (for example, Elephant Bush, Portulacaria afra) are planted and the child chooses a small plastic animal as “protector;” learning about general care of indoor plants.
  • Bulb Garden Daffodil bulbs are planted on a bed of pebbles, learning how bulbs grow and the role of soil in plant growth.
  • Autumn Leaves Making a collage of colorful autumn leaves, learning where leaf color comes from.

Each Master Gardener volunteer must complete the hospital’s volunteer training program on patient interaction, safety and confidentiality. One or two Master Gardeners at a time conduct the projects, twice a week, year round, including holidays.

The goals of the program are twofold: First, provide an enjoyable activity that brightens the atmosphere of what can be a tedious, fearful and painful experience, while giving children a sense of accomplishment. Second, introduce children to plants and plant care in a fun way, laying the foundation for a long-term appreciation for and enjoyment of horticulture.

The project has shown to have a significant impact on patients’ in-hospital emotional well–being. A more concrete measure of the project’s impact is that the hospital has built a rooftop garden for patient relaxation and therapy. Funding is underway for the second phase of the project, including an on-site greenhouse to provide plants for the horticultural therapy program.

Written by: Tom Guettler, Ramsey County Master Gardener Program, University of Minnesota Extension

Search for Excellence Award First Place – Workshop or Presentation (2013)

Friday, November 7th, 2014

“In Your Own Back Yard”, Rutgers Master Gardener of Ocean County, New Jersey, USA

Leading the Way for Master Gardener Interns

Towards the end of our interns’ 2012 training period, Rutgers Master Gardeners of Ocean County guided the interns in presenting a program, Fall Garden Day, to the residents of our community. The program informed the residents of good horticultural practices for their home gardens through three PowerPoint presentations and several mini-demonstrations.

Getting the Interns On-Board

A group of master gardeners met with the interns and offered basic ideas of how an outreach program is usually put together by our MG group. They described the various committees needed and asked for two volunteers to act as chairpersons for the project. Enthusiasm built as we put together plans, decided on a title and theme for the program, discussed our modest budget and set a timetable. We encouraged all interns to participate in some way.

Spreading the Word about a Free Horticultural Program for Residents

An intern volunteered to create a flyer advertising the program. Interns and MG’s posted or distributed flyers to community groups, garden clubs, libraries, friends, neighbors, etc.

Attendees at the Demonstrations

Attendees at the Demonstrations

 Selecting Speakers and Demonstrators

The intern co-chairpersons of Fall Garden Day contacted our MG speakers’ bureau and asked for speakers on the topics the interns selected. The co-chairs also asked for volunteers to do mini-demonstrations during a break-out session at the end of the program.

Creating a Feedback Form

A Master Gardener helped the intern who volunteered to put together a feedback form. She offered samples of forms that were used in the past and explained that we need to know if we are meeting our goals and how we might improve the program in the future.

Plants for Attendees

Plants for Attendees

 An Incentive for Participants to fill out our Feedback Form

A committee of interns worked on growing plants for Fall Garden Day participants who handed in feedback forms. The MG’s who work in our hoop house guided this group of interns on the planting and care of about 90 small plants. A separate group of interns was in charge of putting together several baskets for door prizes.

Making it all look Welcoming

Interns on the decoration committee did an amazing job decorating the auditorium and entrance hall with a fall theme. They used some of our stored decorations, added some of their own, and borrowed some more. It looked great and cost very little

Decorations and Exhibits

Decorations and Exhibits

Greeters and Hospitality

Some interns chose to be greeters, welcoming guests, directing them to the auditorium, and ushering them to seats as the auditorium began to get crowded. Interns on the hospitality committee solicited “finger foods” from the Master Gardeners to go along with coffee and tea. They set up a wonderful spread, all from the volunteers.

For Interns who wanted to participate but could not come on Fall Garden Day

These interns put together a folder with a program of the day’s events, informational materials about the Master Gardeners, gardening information and our feedback form. They scheduled their committee to meet at a time convenient for them.

And so it went…

The people came. Our MG presenters were great. The interns did their jobs. Master Gardeners and our MG Coordinator, Linda Schoch, approved all plans and oversaw the event. We had a cleanup committee, but everyone just pitched in and talked about how well the day went. Guided by the Master Gardeners, our interns had their first experience putting together a program for the public. Next year, it will be their turn to help guide the next group of interns to present Fall Garden Day.

Submitted by: Kerren Vallone, Rutgers Master Gardener of Ocean County, New Jersey, USA


Search for Excellence Award First Place – Innovative Project (2013)

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

2013 Search for Excellence: Innovative Programs Award Winner 1st Place, Douglas County Master Gardener Plant Training Program, Roseburg, OR USA

The challenges that lead us to the development of our Master Gardener Plant Clinic Training Program were two fold. The first was retention of students after their mandatory hours and keeping Veterans involved. The second was ensuring that office protocols and procedures were being followed on a consistent basis.
In making phone calls to students and veterans I found that they felt uncomfortable working in the Clinic. They didn’t feel that they were competent. We clearly needed to do a better job in our Clinic training.
At that time our training consisted of an orientation, two training sessions with whoever was working in the clinic and working in the Clinic for the remainder of their hours. There was no consistency in the training.

Advanced Diagnostics Class

Advanced Diagnostics Class

The most vital element of our new program is the Teaching Core. This group of 5 Veterans make the commitment to train the students from February through May, with two training sessions with their mentors. Next we developed a curriculum for them to follow. The students have a corresponding check list on file in the office. Both students and trainers refer to this list to see what has been covered. The students can also use the list to ask the trainer to repeat things that they are unsure of. Both trainers and students receive an updated copy of clinic Protocol and Procedures.

An important part of the skill set required is diagnostic. Our Agent, Steve Renquist, stepped up to the plate and instituted our Monthly Diagnostic classes. They are focused on the Clinic workers but all Master Gardners are welcome. In the classes we learn about plant, insect and disease identification. Steve updates us on the latest pest alerts and resources. This increased knowledge gives us the confidence that we are giving our clients the latest information.
With this program we have improved the quality of the work done in the Clinic and our volunteer calendar is usually booked two months out. We do an annual review with the trainees and mentors. The number one comment is that both now feel qualified to work in the Plant Clinic. We also follow-up with our Plant Clinic clients; one of the questions asked is “Do you feel the Master Gardners helped you resolve you issues?” In 2008 we had an 86% satisfaction rate / 2009 90%/ 2010 93% and in 2011 we were at 95%.

Our teaching core receiving certificates of appreciation

Our teaching core receiving certificates of appreciation

We have already shared our program with other chapters and have received very positive feedback on their results.

If you would like further information go to our site

Submitted by: Judy Mercer, Douglas County Oregon Master Gardener

2015 SFE Awards Application

2013 Search for Excellence Award Winners

Friday, June 27th, 2014
IMG Search for Excellence

International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Awards

On September 7, 2013 twenty one Search for Excellence Awards were presented at the International Master Gardener Conference 2013 (IMGC 2013), Cruise to Alaska Flowers, Fjords & Friends. Search for Excellence (SFE) is the recognition of outstanding projects by Master Gardener volunteers throughout the United States and Canada. 2013 logo for IMGC

SFE Awards are presented every two years at the IMGC conference where Master Gardener volunteers, Extension staff and faculty gather to learn from each other, share projects and to network with their peers from around the world. Twenty one Master Gardener programs were recognized for their outstanding achievement from a field of seventy two applications, submissions from twenty six USA states and two Canadian provinces.

First, second and third place awards were presented in seven categories:

• Community Service
• Demonstration Gardens
• Innovative Projects
• Special Needs Audiences
• Research
• Workshop or Presentation
• Youth Programs

All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place. The SFE projects need to be ongoing projects for at least two years; one of the winners this year has been going on for twenty six years. The IMGC Committee judges the applications. Winning projects were chosen on the basis of their originality and creativity; practicality of the program; simplicity of replication by other Master Gardeners and their significant impact on their communities.

First place winners received a plaque and a small stipend to continue their educational projects. The twenty one awarded projects displayed posters of their projects at the IMGC 2013 conference. Congratulations to all the SFE awardees that are involved in these excellent projects.

Beginning in October and continuing over the next several months, this blog will feature stories and pictures from each 2013 Search for Excellence award winners. Watch for the upcoming postings  and read about these outstanding projects.

The 2015 SFE awards nominations will begin in September – to apply follow the links.

Written by: Patty Driscoll, 2013 SFE Chair

Apply for 2013 International Master Gardener – Search for Excellence Awards by November 1

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012


It’s that time again — the 2013 International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award Applications are Due, November 1, 2012.

IMG Search for Excellence

International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Awards


What Are the Search for Excellence Awards All About?

The Search for Excellence (SFE)  Awards recognizes superior Master Gardener volunteer work internationally (throughout the United States and Canada).

SFE has seven categories in which Master Gardeners can demonstrate their outstanding contributions to their communities

  • Youth Programs
  • Demonstration Garden
  • Workshop or Presentation
  • Community Service
  • Innovative Projects
  • Special Need Audiences and Research

Submit a Search for Excellence Application Now

All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place, whether by the Master Gardeners or the general public. The Search for Excellence Award recognizes the highest quality within our Master Gardener programs Internationally. If you think your local Master Gardener project is outstanding, send in your application soon.

The SFE guidelines and application are posted at the bottom of the International Master Gardener’s Conference 2013 homepage. Please note these details when submitting an SFE application submission:

  • The DEADLINE for IMGC SFE applications has been extended to NOVEMBER 1, 2012.
  • We will send out notification of who has won by February 1, 2013.
  • Awards will be presented September 7, 2013 on the International Master Gardener Conference 2013 – Alaska Cruise.

Take a look at the 2011 SFE winners on this blog.  There are some very inspiring projects and I hope they will tweak your interest to send in an application or start a new project in your local Master Gardener Program.

-Patty Driscoll

Search for Excellence Award Blog Posts (Listing by Project Category)

Monday, February 6th, 2012
IMG Search for Excellence

International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Awards

In early November, Monica David, the 2011 IMGC vice president, announced we would be sharing 18 blog posts about each of the Extension Master Gardener volunteer projects that received a 2011 International Search For Excellence Award. These projects were awarded among six project categories during the 2011 International Master Gardener Conference.

Blog Posts Created New National Recognition and Discussion Opportunities

This year, blogging about these award winning projects helped bring new recognition and understanding of the value of Extension Master Gardener volunteers through pageviews on this blog, shares through our Facebook page, and retweets on Twitter.

Many of these projects received kudos in the blog’s comments section and created opportunities for Extension Master Gardeners from different states to discuss and learn about how local programs are participating in similar or different ways across the United States. To make these blog posts easier to access and find by category, we’ve grouped the 2011 International Master Gardener Search For Excellence award winning blog posts by project category and listed them for you below.

As you work toward new volunteer projects this year, you may want to take another glimpse at these posts, share these with a friend, or perhaps add your insights to the comments sections for a particular project that applies or resonates most with you….or (hint, hint) perhaps these posts will encourage your local program to submit an application for the 2013 International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Awards!

Blog Posts by Project Award Category

Workshop attendees learn how to properly construct their own rain barrels in Macon, County Iowa

The next International Master Gardener Conference and Search for Excellence Awards will take place in 2013.  For more information on the next International Master Gardener conference, see the IMGC 2013 Website or Facebook page.

Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

2011 Search for Excellence Community Service Award Winner- 3rd Place

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Share the Health Educational Garden- Cuyahoga County, Ohio

The STH Garden is a project involving three entities: the village of Gates Mills, the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County, and Magnolia Clubhouse of Cleveland.  Five years ago, two Master Gardeners started to grow vegetables for the needy on land provided by the village.  Since that time the garden has grown in area, the amount of food produced, and the number of people involved.  Only sustainable gardening practices are used to grow the food.

Master Gardeners in the greenhouse after a bountiful harvest.

The STH garden donates its entire harvest each year to Magnolia Clubhouse.  Magnolia Clubhouse is a day program for adults with mental illness.  Last year, the STH garden provided over 2000 pounds of fresh vegetables to the Clubhouse.  This resulted in savings of $150 per week in Magnolia’s food budget.  Clubhouse members discovered they liked some vegetables they had never enjoyed before.

Last year, twenty eight Master Gardeners volunteered at one time or another in the garden, as well as ten community members.  Volunteers come to the garden each Monday at 9 am from March to November to do what is needed.  The STH garden would not exist without the involvement of those who donate resources, including the Gates Mills Improvement Society, the Ivy Garth Seed Company, community members, and the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County.

Master Gardeners raise vegetables organically to give to disabled adults

The Master Gardeners work with Magnolia House to determine the best products to grow, based on nutritional value, food preferences and preparation.  Each year the Master Gardeners try new vegetables, but staple crops of green beans, tomatoes, beets and potatoes provide consistency.  The Garden is grown organically for the most part.

Master Gardeners raise vegetables organically in their community garden.

This garden, with its mission to donate all food grown to needy individuals, is the first of its kind in Cuyahoga County.  Education is a key component of this mission.  Community members and Master Gardeners have attended sessions on preserving herbs and three-season vegetable gardening.  Magnolia Clubhouse members have also visited the garden to learn about the crops grown and garden care.

This year the garden won several different awards for its efforts.  The Gates Mills Garden Club was awarded first place in Ohio for the educational exhibit provided by the STH garden.  In the Ohio Master Gardener community service contest, the STH garden earned first place!

Whom might I contact for more information about the STH garden?

Gwen Morgan, 440.823.1591,
Sharon Klimm, 440.248.8567,

To learn more about Cuyhoga County Master Gardeners visit their webpage at

Written by Sharon Klimm, Cuyohoga County Ohio Master Gardener

2011 Search for Excellence Innovative Project Winners- 3rd Place Tie

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Two projects: Emerald Ash Borer Awareness/Management by Greene County Ohio Master Gardeners and Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps by Anne Arundel County Maryland Master Gardeners tie for third place in the Innovative project category at the International Master Gardener Conference.

Emerald Ash Borer – Greene County Ohio Master Gardeners

Ohio’s Greene County Master Gardeners were awarded the Search for Excellence Award, 3rd place, at the International Master Gardeners Conference for their Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program.  In their thorough approach, the Master Gardeners worked with local government to not only raise general awareness but to manage the impact of the EAB.

Master Gardeners check a city tree for signs of EAB damage.

Seminars and meetings reach 1000+

Under the leadership of Thais Reiff, Xenia, Ohio, the group hosted three major seminars and 40 group meetings, reaching over a thousand government officials, landscape professionals, and private citizens.  To emphasize the need for EAB training and provide all Ohio Master Gardeners information, they developed, aired, and archived nine EAB and tree related training programs over the internet.  This innovative program delivery provided the impetus for the creation of the Ohio State University sponsored “EAB University.”  For more information, visit:

EAB Tree Inventory of ~25,141 Green County Specimens

Lead by retired engineer, Steve Mehaffie, Beavercreek, Ohio, the Master Gardeners and volunteers inventoried every city-maintained tree in Greene County, totaling approximately 25,141 specimens.  To achieve this amazing feat, Steve provided a thorough document, “Guide to the Beavercreek Tree Inventory”.  Also, he shared his tree inventory techniques in 90-minute presentation on “How to Do a City Tree Inventory” for organizers. The goal was to allow local governments to better manage their urban forests in light of the EAB infestation.  Both presentations are available to all Master Gardeners throughout Ohio and beyond at:

For more information, visit

Written by Susan Richardson, Greene County Ohio Master Gardener


Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps – Anne Arundel County Maryland Master Gardeners

Anne Arundel County, Maryland Master Gardeners also received a third place award for their project with youth- Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps.

Children enjoy getting their hands dirty while learning about soils and nutrition at Grow It Eat It Summer Camp.

Basic Food Gardening Lesson for Youth in Summer Camps

In partnership with the Anne Arundel County Recreation and Park, Annapolis City Recreation and Parks, and the Family and Consumer Sciences at University of Maryland the MG established a lesson on basic food gardening for underserved youth between ages six and twelve who were attending Recreation and Parks summer camps.

Lessons included Soil and Nutrition, Seeds, Plant Parts, Whole Grains, and Colors. Over 760 children attended the camps where they learned basic gardening principles and were given the tools to make healthier choices at home. The Master Gardeners were also asked to return to work with children ages four and five to introduce basic gardening concepts.

For more information visit the website at

posted by Monica David, IMGC Vice President

2011 Search for Excellence Innovative Projects Winners- 2nd place

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The Grass Roots project by the  Chesterfield County Master Gardeners from Virginia received second place in the Innovative Projects category at the International Master Gardener Conference for their project which emphasized sustainable lawns.

Homeowners are often frustrated with the condition of their lawn and tired of throwing away money on seed and fertilizer, only to see no improvements.  They can get to the ROOT of the problem through the Grass Roots Program!

A site visit begins with measuring the lawn area.

Site visits create healthy lawn, protect watershed

Grass Roots offers Chesterfield County residents the chance to learn about and remedy the specific problems contributing to their lawn’s current condition.  We offer personalized recommendations tailored to each lawn’s needs, which when followed can lead to a “green” – both beautiful and environmentally-friendly – lawn.

The program includes a site visit by a Master Gardener volunteer who measures lawn area, collects soil sample(s) and completes a detailed site evaluation, including information on soil compaction and weed cover.  Cooperative Extension staff uses this information in conjunction with soil test results to make specific recommendations for each lawn.

In the past 14 years, the Grass Roots program has helped over 4,600 county residents adopt lawn care practices that provide them with healthier turf and protect the watershed from excess fertilizers and pesticides. Surveys show that past participants are very happy with the information they received and the results they are seeing in their lawns.

An Extension Master Gardener takes soil samples to test for nutrient management and pH.

For more information about this Extension Master Gardener program, see Chesterfield County Master Gardener site

Written by Susan Edwards, ANR Technician and Master Gardener Coordinator, Chesterfield County, Virginia Cooperative Extension
Posted by Monica David, IMGC Vice President

2011 Search for Excellence Innovative Project Winners -1st place

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The Emerald Ash Borer/Ash Tree Inventory project by the Boone County Illinois Master Gardeners was awarded first place in the Innovative Projects Category at the International Master Gardener conference. Barbara Wych, chairperson for this project tells us about this award winning effort:

Boone County Master Gardeners show the results of mapping ash tree locations in one township which was surveyed.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) First Found in Michigan

In the summer of 2002, a ½” long bright metallic beetle native to areas of Asia, was first discovered in the United States near Detroit, Michigan.  This insect is the Emerald Ash Borer and as its name implies, it only uses ash trees during its life cycle.  Tree damage occurs as the larvae or borer feeds on the inner bark, effectively disrupting the movement of water and nutrients and ultimately killing the tree.  If the Emerald Ash Borer is not contained and eradicated the impact of this borer on ash trees in North America will be similar to that of chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease.

EAB discovered in Illinois in 2006

Four years later, in 2006, the insect was discovered in Illinois.  Since Boone County is near this Illinois site, in 2009, the Boone County Master Gardeners took the opportunity to be proactive in the community.  We formed a partnership with the city and county governments, Illinois Department of Ag., the parks and conservation districts, Extension educators and staff.

Ash tree inventory helps community understand EAB impacts, make informed decisions

As part of the partnership, the Boone County Master Gardeners conducted an ash tree inventory by recording the GPS coordinates, measuring tree diameters and assessing the health of all ash trees on all county, township and city right of ways.  This information was entered into the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) which plotted color coded locations of all the ash trees; green for healthy, yellow for declining and red for dead.  The Emerald Ash Borer/ Ash Tree Inventory project was conducted with two goals that were successfully met; to

1) provide the county with accurate ash tree impact data for resource planning and budgeting, and

2) to educate the community on Emerald Ash Borer facts to enable them to make informed decisions.

County Ash Tree Inventory saves $10,000

Master Gardener Barb Wych teaches homeowners about the Emerald Ash Borer.

In the process, the Master Gardeners inventoried nearly 3200 ash trees with almost 500 volunteer hours.  The inventory process was a cost savings of over $10,000 to the county but beyond that showed the value of Master Gardeners as a significant part of the community.

For more information about the University of Illinois Boone County Master Gardeners, visit:

Written by Barbara Wych, University of Illinois Extension Boone County Master Gardener
Posted by Monica David, IMGC Vice-President