But volunteers also are required to fulfill continuing education hours to keep them up to date on the latest from experts in horticulture. In 2011, Master Gardeners logged over 28,000 hours in continuing education.
So ... what qualifies for CE hours? What kinds of opportunities are out there for Master Gardeners?
There are many Continuing Education opportunities, or "CE opps" as I like to call them, available for Master Gardeners in Minnesota. In the past, CE opps were almost always face-to-face learning where the volunteer had to go to the instructor. Sometimes videos were provided too for volunteers to watch and learn.
Today, Master Gardeners can still learn face-to-face, but there are also webinars, online classes, and DVDs that sometimes help people learn and be able to review later. The online Master Gardener Core Course education modules are always available for any volunteer to access and review. This class is also offered for non-volunteers and U credit students. For information, visit the Master Gardener website
In the Volunteer Section of the Master Gardener website, there is a section "Continuing Education" where volunteers can access education. This blog also feeds CE opps to this website. The biggest CE opp for Master Gardeners in 2012 is the Upper Midwest Master Gardener Conference, July 19-21, 2012 at the Arboretum. It will be taking the place of Master Gardener Summer School for 2012 and is a conference for Master Gardener volunteers from around the region.
Master Gardeners - and the general public - can click on Classes & Events on the Extension or Master Gardener websites. Here people can find horticulture days, plant sales, garden tours and more. Just click on the appropriate link.
Who can be an instructor? In the past, instructors were required to be faculty or Extension staff from a University. Today, Master Gardeners have many more options! Master Gardeners can gain CE through classes at the MN Landscape Arboretum and many other public gardens. These gardens also often have tours / speakers that MGs can attend and can count toward CE. There are classes through government agencies such as local Soil & Water Conservation District and events offered by the MN Department of Natural Resources that provide great environmental education.
Certainly learning from any University or Extension faculty / staff from MN and surrounding states is a great CE opp. Online opps from other Universities are valuable too. They can be found by clicking on the category "CE Opps" in this blog. Other University programs like the Department of Forestry's Shade Tree Short Course, Tree Care Advisors, Woodland Advisor and the MN Master Naturalist are good CE opps for Master Gardeners. They offer volunteer activities that may also apply as Master Gardener volunteering as well. The University blog My Minnesota Woods is a great resource for education about trees and forested areas as well as urban tree care information. A must to bookmark or add to your list of favorites!
Industry experts and authorities are good resources for continuing education for Master Gardeners as well! The MN Nursery and Landscape Association is an excellent source of continuing education for Master Gardeners who are MNLA members and non-members alike and helps strengthen the connection the University and industry. Many Minnesota industry professionals are nationally - and internationally - renowned experts in their field and collaborate with the University on research and teaching, and help bring science and business together.
Lastly, there are many Master Gardeners who are experts in a particular field whether it be orchids, lakeshore restoration, soil science, plant disease diagnostics, public speaking, using social media, fundraising, youth education, etc. Master Gardeners can learn from other Master Gardeners, and the topic may not always be about horticulture. It may be about how to best communicate with others about horticulture! So take advantage of time to learn from fellow MG volunteers!
How do I know if a CE Opp qualifies for hours? The most important thing for Master Gardeners to remember is that Continuing Education can be counted for hours when the Master Gardener is LEARNING. I also encourage people to look for CE opps about topics that you know nothing / very little about, could use an update on, or is something you are interested in teaching as a University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteer.
Thank you to all Master Gardener volunteers for your continued contributions in your communities! Celebrate volunteering during National Volunteer Week April 15-21, 2012!