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August 12, 2009

Creating Public Value with Master Gardener

Last weekend I spoke at the 2009 Minnesota Master Gardener Annual Conference about, of course, the Public Value of Master Gardener programs.

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I am not an expert in the Master Gardener program or its benefits, but I do have a couple of observations about applying the public value approach to this important program.

First, while Master Gardeners surely create public value with the actions they, themselves, make, the larger benefits come from the actions MGs induce others to make. I think most MG public value statements will emphasize this "leveraged" impact.

Second, MG programs create an impressive range of public benefits, including improvements to food security, food safety, biodiversity, air and water quality, social capital, positive youth choices, and local economic vitality. I think some very strong messages can be crafted to highlight these benefits, particularly for stakeholders who may view MG as a "luxury" program whose impact begins and ends with pretty flowers.

Did you attend the Minnesota Master Gardener conference last weekend? Are you a Master Gardener? How do you think the public value approach can be applied to the work that you do?