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Summary

The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer (MGEV) Program continues to train volunteers in Walton County. These volunteers devote their time to assist the Extension agent in answering questions about landscapes and gardening. They also help manage volunteer projects throughout the county related to farmers markets, installing landscapes, educational classes, and many others. The assistance provided by these volunteers is an integral component in helping reach the mission of UGA Extension to provide unbiased, research- based information to the citizens of Georgia.

Situation

The population of Walton County continues to increase and is currently estimated to be over 100,000 individuals. This population growth has caused a rise in the demand for research- based, horticultural information available to the public. In addition to phone calls and emails, UGA Extension agents are perceived as a leader in assisting with the planning and maintenance of school/community gardens and the delivery of educational programming components at community events. With so many responsibilities, this solidifies the need to train the Master Gardener Extension Volunteers to assist with the delivery of unbiased, research-based information to the public.

Response

The Walton County Extension agent coordinated the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program in 2020 for 18 participants. This training consisted of 23 individual classes which were each three hours in length to give participants a thorough understanding of gardening and horticulture in Georgia. After completing the training, program participants helped the Extension office disseminated gardening information answer homeowner phone calls, emails, and assisted with the collection of soil samples. These volunteers also help with the planning and coordination of important projects, such as the Social Circle Pollinator Garden, the City of Monroe Educational Pollinator Garden, and the educational Field Garden in collaboration with Walton Wellness, that impact the community of Walton County. In addition, the MGEV conducted educational webinars that were posted on the Walton County public libraries social media platforms reaching over 500 individuals.

Impact

In 2020, the Walton County Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program trained and graduated 18 new Master Gardeners. These Master Gardener Volunteers planned and installed a community educational garden located in Monroe, Georgia. This particular project consisted of installing a calendar garden representing plants that can be grown in Georgia during the different seasons. They also installed an educational fruit tree orchard at the garden. This project consisted of over 400 volunteer hours totaling over $10,000 in value. The MGEV received over $4,000 in community donations to help with the planning and installation of the educational garden. For 2020, The Walton MGEV program, as a whole, volunteered over 2,000 hours estimated at a value of $44,000. Through the Master Gardener Volunteer program, the Walton County Extension office has been able to extend its reach to more people within the community, be involved in more community projects, and help increase the impact of Extension in Walton County.

State Issue

Urban Agriculture

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: County
  • County: Walton
  • Location: College Station, Athens
  • Program Areas:
    • 4-H Youth
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources
    • Support

Author

  • Burnsed, Joel

Collaborator(s)

Non-CAES Collaborator(s)

  • City of Monroe
  • City of Social Circle
  • Walton County Board of Commissioners
  • Walton County Public Libraries
  • Walton Wellness
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Extension Impact