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Master Gardener Nationwide News

Leadership Changes at CES

Cooperative Extension Service’s Master Gardener program started in King County, Washington, in 1973. Since that time Master Gardeners across the country have become revered as experts trained to be volunteers for Cooperative Extension Service. Whenever something big pops up, such as getting the word out on Sudden Oak Death, the cry goes out that: “Master Gardeners can do it”. But can Master Gardeners do it? Who can speak for Master Gardeners? In Alaska alone there are (at least) four organized Master Gardener Associations. How can Master Gardeners operate across county/district/ state lines?

At a meeting in Minneapolis of Extension Master Gardener Coordinators/Consumer Horticulture Specialists, Jim Green, National Program Leader for Horticulture, broached the idea of putting together a National Master Gardener Steering Committee (11/ 05)

Last summer committee members were elected from MG Coordinators across the U.S. (6/06). Immediately the committee started working on a promotional campaign for the MG Program which included sponsoring a National MG logo contest. (The winning entry will be announced at the International Master Gardener Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, May 2-5, 2007.)

The new year brought changes in UAF Cooperative Extension Service’s leadership. Tony Nakazawa recently accepted a faculty position in UAF’s School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences (SNRAS) and Associate Director, Bill Butler is no longer at CES.

Dr. Nakazawa served as Director for UAF Cooperative Extension Service for 10 years and during this time strongly supported the Master Gardener program. I remember him being impressed with the conference you put together in 1998.

Pete Pinney, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs with the College of Rural and Community Development has been appointed Interim Director. According to a press release issued by UAF University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Steve Jones and Bernice Joseph, Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education have announced that UAF plans to launch a national search for a new director for Cooperative Extension Service. The move is in concert with a plan to strengthen Cooperative Extension and boost its statewide visibility and impact. Goals include increasing public awareness of the education and information services available at the nearly two dozen extension offices and publication distribution points throughout Alaska. In addition, UAF plans to reinforce the relationship between Cooperative Extension and other units in UAF so that it is recognized both as a source of reliable information and as a gateway to UAF. Eric Madsen, Dean of the UAF School of Education, will lead the CES Director Search Committee.

Then in Lexington, Kentucky, at an eXtension forum titled Consumer Horticulture II (11/06), a mission statement was created for the Master Gardener Program which reads in part: “Certified Extension Master Gardener volunteers empower people and communities by delivering research-based horticulture programs and educational information.”The “Certified Extension” part is an effort to distinguish Master Gardeners from others who claim the title in a non-Extension volunteer capacity.

eXtension, (little e, big X and pronounced ee- extension) is an educational partnership of more than 70 universities including UAF. Plans are afoot to ask for your participation as part of a national effort to provide answers to gardening questions via the internet through eXtension’s “Ask an Expert”, something you already do through your own website. It’s an exciting time to be a Master Gardener. Stay tuned for more on eXtension next month.

Upcoming Winter AMGA Programs

The February AMGA meeting presentation will be "Dahlias", by Camille Williams. Camille is always a blue ribbon winner for her dahlias at the State Fair and was on the Anchorage Garden tour to showcase her dahlia garden. Don't forget to bring your favorite dish for the POTLUCK!

The March meeting will be "Plant Life in Israel", presented by Elizabeth Holt. The slide presentation of her trip to Israel last spring and the plant life in this type of landscape promises to be a very interesting evening. The plantings are gorgeous in the desert - a challenge with all the rock.

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Mark your calendars - see you there! The Great Northern Brewers

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