At the end of 2019, 36 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 2,773 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $66,556 (Independent Sector). They also reported 685 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 5,382 individuals with various outreach projects.
Teaching Kids to Garden at the YMCA
The Stevens Point YMCA 4-5 Year old garden education program began on June 12 and continued until August 21, weekly except for the July 4th holiday. Planning for the 2019 Program began in April in coordination with a representative from Farm to School who run the Giving Gardens program in Stevens Point. In April new compost was spread on all of the raised beds in the gardens as well as the youth square foot garden plots. On May 28 early crops were planted in the raised beds. The planting progressed according to the tolerance of the cold until all of the raised beds were filled in early June.
On June 12 the youth planted their two square foot garden plots, one with beans and another with a flower plant. This year seven Master Gardener volunteers participated in educating the youth. Each week the class size ranged from nine to nineteen children. Summer vacation schedules accounted for the variance in attendance each week.
The children were split into two groups with one group in the classroom and another in the garden. After a 20 minute lesson the groups were rotated. Topics this year included the fundamentals of plant growth, composting and recycling, pollination, critters in the garden, the Healthy Plate, and lessons on ecology. The children learned about the variety of vegetables available, and how we prepare them. Of course these topics were presented on a level a 4-5 year old could understand.
Each week the lesson was presented in the classroom with an activity in the garden which reinforced the concept presented that week. The children also checked the growth in their own garden plots as well as the progress of the raised beds. There were plenty of opportunities for the children to sample the ripening produce as the season progressed.
We were very well supported by the Kinder Kids classroom teacher and the classroom aide as we presented our lessons. Each of the volunteers who helped teach this summer found the program to be valuable in educating our youth and we hope to continue the program next year.
Educating the Community with Garden Dreams
Garden Dreams was presented on March 30th as a full-day conference featuring speakers from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point College of Natural Resources and Olbrich Gardens in Madison. Over 82 individuals registered for presentations, including “Bird-friendly Backyards,” “Bee-utiful Design,” and “Creating a Garden Sanctuary.”
Educating the Public with Garden Parade
Garden Parade was held on 13th, at five sites in Portage County. Master Gardeners were available at each site to discuss the specifics of the area, as well as answer questions regarding the gardens. There were 300 attendees for the event.
Boston School Forest Earth Day
Portage County Master Gardener Volunteers participated in the Earth Day celebration at the Boston School Forest on April 22nd. The event had more than 400 participants, with approximately 75 youngsters engaged specifically with the Master Gardeners. These students planted seeds to take home, while learning how seeds grow into plants for food and flowers.