Sample Conference Schedule: Focus on Community Engagement

child with watering can

Are you an Extension Master Gardener passionate about community engagement? Our speaker planning team has assembled this sample conference schedule that focuses on community work! (Remember, you do not need to decide in advance of registration which concurrent sessions you will attend–you can decide during the conference.)

Optional Sunday workshop:

Interactive Dialogues for Cultivating A More Culturally-Inclusive Master Gardner Program | Crystal Tyler-Mackey

This session will provide an opportunity to engage in small group dialogues regarding racial and cultural understanding. Led by a team of trained facilitators, the dialogues will allow sharing of experiences and ideas, and will catalyze new learnings and ideas for connecting with a broader, more diverse set of volunteers, clients and partners. 200 max, $10 workshop cost

Concurrent Session 1:

The Garden Thyme Podcast  |  Mikaela Boley, Rachel Rhodes, Emily Zobel

This session will dive into the world of Podcasts. Speakers will discuss the “how to’s” in reaching diverse audiences through non-formal education. Learn how to start a podcast, which platforms to use, editing, and extras needed to have a podcast. This session will also include tips for interviewing guests, marketing, and social media.

Concurrent Session 2:

Community Connections: An EMG Program Supporting an Urban Public Garden | Marylou Wall

With the lack of funding for public gardens becoming more prevalent, Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) are increasingly asked to support and develop gardening opportunities for the public. In keeping with the EMG mission, “To Share Knowledge and Empower the Community,” Green Spring Gardens (GSG) EMGs collaborated with the staff of GSG, a public urban garden consisting of 22 themed gardens on 33 acres in a diverse urban minority area, to develop programs to improve community outreach. This presentation will address concrete ways of collaborating with a public garden staff to ensure activities are successful and appropriate to meet the needs of the community while ensuring the mission of the EMG program is accomplished.

Concurrent Session 3:

Horticulture Therapy Intro & Adaptive Tools for Success | Mike Maddox

What is horticulture therapy? Increasingly, researchers and practitioners are recognizing the restorative power of nature to help people. In this session, Mike will provide an introduction to the potential of horticulture therapy and share tools and tips for creating successful horticulture therapy programs.

Concurrent Session 4:

Planting Seeds of Hope: Cultivating, Nurturing, and Replicating a Horticultural Therapy Program | Kathleen Wellington

With therapeutic gardening becoming more popular, Extension Master Gardeners (GMGs) are increasingly asked to develop educational opportunities for individuals with special needs. Inherent in these requests come challenges to ensure activities are successful and appropriate to the needs of the individuals and EMGs. Recognizing this, Green Spring Gardens EMGs developed a specialized approach, highlighting two therapeutic gardening projects. The Fairfax County, VA, funded Woodburn Crisis Center and the non-profit Fort Belvior, VA, United Service Organizations (USO) program for service personnel in a military in-patient substance abuse program, were initiated in 2016 and are still in operation to date. This presentation will address replicable ways of collaborating with program staff. Practical examples will include therapeutic horticulture training adapted for EMGs, ways to cultivate collaborative relationships with program staff, and the development of replicable training materials.


EMGs Donate Fresh Produce  | Mike Maddox

Learn about Extension Master Gardener (EMG) efforts to address food insecurity by donating fresh produce. This presentation will cover the national Extension Master Gardener program’s survey efforts to assess pounds of produce donated since 2009, Growing Together Iowa (a program at Iowa State University that addresses food insecurity by connecting food pantries and EMG volunteers), and expansion of the Growing Together program into other states.

Concurrent Session 5:

Authentic Curriculum Connections for a Successful School Garden | Cris Blackstone

Your enthusiasm for a school garden may not be quite enough to launch the project and ensure it’s part of the school’s personality. Understanding the school’s curriculum and time-constraints puts you in a strong position to help interested school administrators and teachers become advocates of the garden. With more research available about nature-deficit disorder, and mental health professionals’ sharing more about the benefits of hands-in-soil and being involved with plants, learning about the latest research is helpful. John Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences also include “naturalistic” strengths, so having conversations with volunteers and school professionals about those strengths will also give you ways to help your garden grow. Understanding the viewpoints expressed by the school professionals, from Buildings and Grounds Managers to Principals and even the school Nurse, you will leave this session feeling more comfortable presenting your ideas with your strengths–the actual GARDEN! With so many ways to learn how to present your ideas and involve all the stakeholders, your project will start with strong footing and sustainability is all but ensured.

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