Michigan Master Gardeners meet for strategic visioning retreat
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Representatives from the Michigan Master Gardener local associations, at-large Master Gardeners, members of the Michigan Master Gardener Association Board of Directors and the Michigan State University Extension Consumer Horticulture Team met Feb.19-20 at the St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, Michigan, to discuss issues and goals to strengthen the statewide MSU Extension Master Gardener Program while focusing on community needs for the next three to five years.
“We are very excited to see potential growth of the Master Gardener Program. We had a lot of great ideas at the retreat that we are looking forward to putting into action in the near future,” said Mary Wilson, state Master Gardener Program coordinator. “We had an excellent group of people, and I’m excited to be working together to accomplish some of the goals we identified.”
The purpose of the retreat was to develop a shared vision for future program growth, sustainability and success. The framework for developing the plan came through stakeholder focus groups and a statewide survey conducted in January. This preliminary work identified five critical issues: recognition and relationships, communication and roles, equity, program delivery and distance learning, and funding and program stability. During the retreat, participants created a working document based on those five critical issues, which they will use to keep focused on the goals they created.
The MSU Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-based program that provides science-based, environmentally sound horticulture information to individuals and communities across the state. MSU Extension began the Master Gardener Program in 1978 and has trained more than 30,000 people. Last year, 2,909 Extension Master Gardener volunteers spent around 163,000 hours in their communities educating others on gardening practices to improve environmental quality, food security, youth development, quality of life and community beautification.
“The retreat allowed everyone to gather to share ideas and give a wide variety of input in a quick way,” said Gloria Schuler, Saginaw Area Master Gardener Association president. “We achieved much more during the retreat than we could have over webinars or conference calls.”
The group will meet again May 4 to follow up on the goals set during the retreat. The May meeting will be held at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education.