Pivot or paradigm shift? COVID-19 impact on extension master gardener training and outreach

S. Dorn, N. Bumgarner, P.D. Relf, C. Glen, J. Flagler, J. Fry, K. Dunker, A. Helmholdt, C. Hilgert, N.D. Pinson
As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down extension programming across the United States, state coordinators of extension master gardener volunteer programs grappled with challenges of salvaging a training season, keeping volunteers engaged, and meeting heightened public need for gardening information, all amidst health constraints. Many states converted from traditional, in-person lecture formats to a combination of live and recorded virtual presentations. While balancing the technology and human aspects of leading a people-focused volunteer organization in uncertain conditions, new opportunities arose that enabled expanded reach and increased efficiencies. Viewpoints of multiple state coordinators will be shared in this discussion of COVID-related impacts on EMG programs, including benefits and challenges of technology-based training and preparation, engaging volunteers virtually, offering social/physically distanced programming, and the ensuing balance of tension between volunteer models and direct education of a gardening public.
Dorn, S., Bumgarner, N., Relf, P.D., Glen, C., Flagler, J., Fry, J., Dunker, K., Helmholdt, A., Hilgert, C. and Pinson, N.D. (2021). Pivot or paradigm shift? COVID-19 impact on extension master gardener training and outreach. Acta Hortic. 1330, 253-260
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.30
online instruction, asynchronous, volunteer, technology, virtual

Acta Horticulturae