Posts Tagged ‘online training’

Online IPM Modules for Master Gardeners- A New Educational Tool

Friday, March 15th, 2013
Basil plant heavily infected with basil downy mildew (Picture by Bruce Watt, University of Maine,

Basil plant heavily infected with
basil downy mildew (Picture by Bruce Watt,
University of Maine,

Need to brush up on your pests to answer client garden questions?

Learn about newly emerging or persistent plant diseases and insect problems in the home landscape with the NEW University of Illinois Extension Online IPM modules. These modules are designed for Extension Master Gardeners but can be used by home gardeners and green industry professionals.

Eight Self-paced Online IPM Modules

Eight online IPM modules are currently available, covering landscape pest and problems such as:

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
  • Thousand Canker Disease
  • Spruce Problems
  • Downy Mildew on Impatiens,  and more.
  • Bacterial Leaf Scorch
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bur Oak Blight

Module Quick-Facts

Each module is self-paced and contains information and pictures about the pest or pathogen, host plants, symptoms, diagnosis, management and much more. Here we answer a few common questions you may have:

  • Can I earn continuing ed (CE) credits for each module? Each module provides about  1/2  hour of continuing education for Illinois Master Gardeners.
  • Will the CE credit apply in my state? Check with your local coordinator to be sure these modules fulfill the educational requirements in your county and state. (As mentioned, the modules are also a great resource to answer client questions in the office.)
  • How will I get a certificate of completion? After completion of the module content, a short quiz should be completed. Participants must receive a perfect score on the quiz before completing a brief evaluation and then printing a certificate of completion.
  • Is there a charge? The course is free of charge, but participants must register and create a login and password.

The modules were written by University of Illinois plant pathologists and entomologists and more modules are currently under construction. Evaluations show that Master Gardeners value this new easy tool for completing educational hours while staying abreast of current landscape pests and pathogens.

Want to see what a module looks like? View the brown marmorated stink bug example below or directly access these Online IPM modules at

Example of IPM Online Module

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, University of Illinois IPM Module Example

– Monica David, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Coordinator


Thursday, April 7th, 2011

A USDA/NIFA colleague of mine recently asked me to share some information about a new set of online IPM training classes. They look like they’re worth checking out!

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to introduce you to the IPM3 Training Consortium (IPM3).   IPM3 is a consortium of federal agencies and land-grant institutions dedicated to the efficient and timely delivery of practical integrated pest information to individuals responsible for developing and implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  IPM3 provides a Web-based, distance delivery opportunity for people interested in IPM to become proficient in the principles and application of IPM.  Most of the individuals who seek our IPM training are not academics, but need practical information so they can implement IPM in their day-to-day pest management decisions.  For more information about our IPM distance education program, please visit our website at:

IPM3 will be offering six distance education IPM modules in Spring 2011 (please see the course descriptions below).  

These include the following:  

  • IPM Core Concepts Module (15 April to 27 May 2011).  This is the 6th time the course has been taught and students have been uniformly pleased with the experience.  
  • Pest Biology – Plant Pathology (April 15 – 27 May 2011).  After a successful initial first offering, this will be the second time the course is taught. 
  • Pest Biology – Weeds (15 April – 01 June 2011).  This module will be taught for the second time after a successful first offering. 
  • Invasive Species Specialty Module (15 April – 27 May 2011).  This timely and important topic is being offered for the third time. 
  • IPM for Managers and Supervisors (15 April – 27 June 2011).  This unique 10-week stand-alone on-line, interactive Specialty course is designed for facility managers and supervisors who are tasked with supervising the day-to day operations of a building or set of buildings. 
  • Imported Fire Ant IPM (15 April – 27 June 2011).  This stand-alone course, developed by faculty in the Southern Region of the U.S., is being taught for the first time. 

Full course descriptions and registration information are available at Please share this information with your colleagues and others who may have an interest in IPM education.

IPM3 is offering a 16% discount to Master Gardeners for the following courses:  

  • IPM Core Concepts Module (coupon code: X243)
  • Pest Biology – Weeds (coupon code: X238)
  • Pest Biology – Plant Pathology (coupon code: X244)
  • Invasive Species Specialty Module (coupon code: X237).

Please provide the coupon code when you register for these courses to receive the 16% discount.

Thanks and Best Regards,



Robert M. Nowierski, Ph.D.
National Program Leader for
Bio-Based Pest Management
USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Washington, DC

Best, Bill Hoffman – USDA/NIFA

National Extension Master Gardener Coordinators Conference

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010


Did you ever want to talk about the efficacy of On-line Training for Volunteers? How about learning more about ways to fund your local program? What about learning how to use a high quality on-line Integrated Pest Management resource at UC Davis? How about kicking back in the evening with Master Gardener Coordinators from throughout the nations and learn first hand how they do it in their state? Well, the opportunity is now available by attending the National Extension Master Gardener Coordinators Conference being held at UC Davis, California on October 6,7, 8, 2010.

The the theme of this conference is “Can You Hear Me Now?  Technology and the New Age of Education and Outreach”.  The conference goal is to bring together all of the statewide, county or parish based Master Gardener Coordinators to provide an opportunity for learning new technologies to better manage programs, to learn about national inititiatives such as invasive species programs and how MGs can be integrated into it, and to provide a chance to learn from others’ successes in special outreach programs as well as learning from each other about better ways to manage Master Gardener Programs in these challenging times.

To join the conference, you can view the entire agenda, our speakers and registration details at:

 We hope to see you there!Storer north entry

Neighbors Against Bad Bugs (N.A.B.B.)

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

The Purdue University Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Outreach and Education Team has developed a new program for Purdue Master Gardeners called Neighbors Against Bad Bugs (N.A.B.B.), focusing on…

  • Delivering information about management options for EAB in neighborhoods on the brink of severe damage from the pest
  • Making the ash tree resource visible to the general public
  • Creating a readily mobilized chain of volunteers who can respond quickly to EAB and any future pests that threaten neighborhood trees.

The N.A.B.B. program encourages communities and individuals to make good choices about their ash trees before EAB arrives, which not only saves money but allows conservation of the tree canopy in their yards and neighborhoods.

EAB Traps in Indiana (click to enlarge)

Master Gardeners help with EAB Identification

Master Gardeners working with County Extension Educators will be trained to organize and assist volunteers from their communities’ Neighborhood Associations in identifying and tagging ash trees on city right-of-ways with distinctive purple tags. The tags contain contact information and the web address of the Purdue EAB web site (, which explains management options in urban settings, and offers advice on working with local tree care professionals to negotiate reduced rates for treatment or removal of ash trees on peoples’ property. The program involves a face-to-face 2 hour training session for Master Gardener Volunteers, who will then assist volunteers from neighborhood associations in ash tree tagging events.

Launching N.A.B.B. in Indiana

The Purdue team is launching N.A.B.B. in the Lafayette/West Lafayette area. They are also working with the City of Indianapolis and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIBI) to tag the city’s ash trees while distributing information about managing EAB to local Neighborhood Associations. There is great interest in Indianapolis in this project as the northeast areas are beginning to see extensive damage from EAB infestations.

After its initial launch in the Greater Lafayette area, the N.A.B.B. program will be available to County Extension Educators and Master Gardeners throughout Indiana.

EAB Distribution Map (click to enlarge)

Purdue Master Gardener EAB self-study

Quiz from MG Self Study Online (click to enlarge)

Master Gardeners who are interested in learning more about EAB are encouraged to complete the Purdue Master Gardener EAB self-study course, which is located online at There are two quizzes to take online and upon completion, the participant will be able to print out a certificate that can be turned in for 2 hours of advanced training credit.

For more information on N.A.B.B. or the EAB self-study course, please contact Melissa Shepson (, 765-494-0997) or Jodie Ellis (, 765-494-0822).

(Contributed by Rosie Lerner, Purdue University MG State Coordinator)

Online Master Gardener Trainings

Monday, June 28th, 2010

When I took on the position as the Statewide Coordinator of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program, plans for an online version of the Master Gardener training course were already in the works.  Although I had taught in a traditional classroom setting for 12 years (8 years as a graduate student teaching assistant at the University of Maryland and 4 years as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Fordham University), I had no experience with an online course – as either a teacher or a student.  Thus, I cautiously approached the idea of online education.

In an online class, how would I know if my students were learning?  Unlike scientific research, where it can take several years (or more) for you to gauge whether or not your ideas and experiments worked as expected, students let you know – each and every day you teach – whether or not you are doing a good or a bad job as an instructor.  I love this instantaneous feedback.  If I could not read and react to the expression on my students’ faces, as I present a new concept or teach a new lesson, how could I tailor the class to meet their needs?  Could teaching and learning in an online course be as dynamic as interactions in a traditional classroom?  I did not know the answer to these questions as I began to develop an online version of the Oregon Master Gardener training course, but I was sure that I would find out in short measure.

Across the nation, Extension Master Gardener training usually involves several weeks of coursework, followed by a volunteer internship or volunteer practicum.  Usually, the coursework is offered during the week (e.g. in Oregon, only 2 of 28 counties offered Master Gardener training on a weekend or in the evening, in 2009).  Offering classes on a weekday has been a successful model for recruiting and training a highly qualified corps of Master Gardener volunteers – as evidenced by the over 94,000 Master Gardeners in the United States, who together donated over 5 million hours of volunteer service in 2009!

Nonetheless, it is not difficult to imagine that the timing of Extension Master Gardener trainings precludes many potential participants from enrolling.  Folks may be interested in becoming a Master Gardener, but are not able to take the time away from work or family to attend on-site trainings.  Instead, they may wait until their children are older and/or their work schedules are more flexible to become a Master Gardener.  As a result, the pool of eligible Master Gardener volunteers narrows.  In Oregon, for example, over 75% of volunteers were 56 years of age or older in 2007 (Miller and Langellotto, unpublished data).  Online Master Gardener trainings are one way to broaden the availability of this popular Extension program to a wider array of constituents.

In Oregon, I helped to relaunch the online Master Gardener training course in 2008 (a previous course had been taught, on a limited scale, a few years earlier).  The course consists of 12 lessons, including: botany; soils, fertilizers and compost; entomology; plant pathology; sustainable landscaping; herbaceous ornamental plants; container gardens; pesticides, IPM; woody landscape plants; history and mission of the Master Gardener Program in Oregon.  The course contains narrated Power Point lectures, optional homework assignments and quizzes, pdf versions of their textbook readings, and supporting materials and web links.  Assignments, in particular, are structured to give students hands-on experience with particular topics.  For example, students are invited to test their soil texture, identify and investigate a ‘mystery plant’ in their backyard, and to assess their landscape’s sustainability score (Figure 1).  The course also provides opportunities for interaction via a moderated discussion board and optional online chats.

Figure 1.  Example of an assignment (only part of which is displayed) for the Oregon online Master Gardener course. Students must take a Landscape Sustainability checkup, and report on their cumulative and categorical scores.  Students are then asked to consider how they might improve their scores, in categories where they did not score so high.

Two options are available for the online course.  Those who are interested in the information provided by the Master Gardener training course can take the class, without completing a volunteer internship or practicum, to earn a Certificate of Home Horticulture.  Those who are interested in earning a Master Gardener badge must take the class AND successfully complete a volunteer internship or practicum.  This volunteer work is completed at a county Extension office, and under the supervision of their local Extension agent.  Thus, it is impossible to simply take the online course to become a Master Gardener, as the volunteer practicum is an essential component of the training that Master Gardeners receive.  Individuals must take the course, pass the final exam, AND complete their volunteer internship.  In Oregon, the volunteer internship consists of 40-70 hours of answering gardening questions that come into the ‘Plant Clinic’ desk or hotline, educating or assisting others in a demonstration or community garden, or on another OSU Extension-approved volunteer activity.

Thus far, the course has largely been successful. Over 256 students have enrolled in the course since September of 2008.  Geographically, these students came from 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties, 16 additional states (AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MA, MD, MO, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, VA, UT, WA), one US territory (Puerto Rico) and 7 countries (Canada, Democratic Republic of Georgia, Denmark, Mexico, Myanmar, South Korea, Trinidad)!  Of these 256 students, 131 have earned Certificates of Home Horticulture and 65 have gone on to complete their volunteer internship to earn their Master Gardener badge.  The completion rate of 77% (190 of 256 students enrolled successfully completed the course) is on par with what we see in Oregon, for on-site trainings (72% in 2008, but includes both the coursework AND successful completion of a volunteer internship/practicum).

Many students share positive remarks about the course.  Veteran Master Gardeners, who have been assigned to mentor an online student, have remarked that they especially enjoyed how the discussion board allowed for extended and in-depth conversation on a topic  – something that isn’t always possible when instructors come to present a topic at an on-site training.  And, although I didn’t expect that I would enjoy teaching an online course, I have to admit that it is fun interacting with such a diverse group of students, and that I find comfort in being able to take my time to answer a question.

Oregon is not the first or the only state to offer an online or distance version of a course for Extension Master Gardener certification or recertification.  Check out the courses offered by these states (or, if I inadvertently omitted your state’s online training course, please feel free to add to the list, in the comments section!).

Of course, the classroom component of Master Gardener training is only one part of the equation.  As we increase the availability of Master Gardener training to those who can not attend classes during the week, so too must we increase volunteer opportunities for those who can not volunteer in an Extension office during the week.  In Oregon – weekend, evening and distance volunteer options are available in select counties.  These options include:  staffing plant clinic booths at weekend farmer’s markets and other events, weekend volunteerism in demonstration and community gardens, fielding and answering gardening questions that have been submitted online (under the supervision of a trained mentor and/or Extension agent), and working with faculty and staff on projects that can be completed from home.

My foray into online education has been scary, eye-opening, fun and challenging – often, all at the same time!  However, given the ubiquity of the internet and general interest in the Extension Master Gardener Program, it is likely that online trainings will only increase in popularity.  Delivering online courses with the same high standards that we demand in on-site classes, and coupling course content with hands-on experiences (via assignments AND the volunteer internship/practicum) will help to ensure that online delivery of Master Gardener trainings continues to foster well-trained and enthusiastic Master Gardeners who are poised to make positive contributions in their communities.