Mission of Master Gardeners clarified
To the editor:
After hearing of some requests made of Master Gardeners, as a MG I think it is time to make clear what a Master Gardener is, and is not.
The mission of Master Gardeners is stated on the Iowa State University Extension Master Gardener website as follows:
“The mission of the Master Gardener Program is to provide current, research-based, home horticulture information and education to the citizens of Iowa through ISU Extension programs and projects. Through their participation in educational activities, Master Gardeners also increase their own personal knowledge in horticulture. Master Gardeners extend Iowa State University Extension’s consumer horticulture education programs through volunteer activities.”
As you can see, the primary mission is to educate, through programs, projects and volunteer activities. Free labor we are not. Master Gardeners are available to train others to properly do necessary labor, give presentations, write columns for the Ledger and answer questions among other things. Any MG can do more hours than is required. However, every one of the Jefferson County Master Gardeners also does other volunteer work, and being gardeners, have our own gardens to maintain.
Jefferson County Master Gardener students with hours of volunteerism needed, last year took on the task of landscape designing and planting at Maasdam Barns as well as maintenance of the city’s nodes. These were intended to be projects for our education, to fulfill needed approved volunteer hours and to benefit the community at large. It was not to be a lifetime commitment.
The Maasdam Barn project became a huge undertaking with the drought last year. We all agreed that unless we wanted the work we had done and the dollars spent to be wasted, we would need to water. This was carried on until fall with each MG taking a week at a time, watering three times during the week. Each watering took a minimum of 1 1/2 hours. Some did more than their share. This is a major time and money (gas) commitment we cannot maintain indefinitely.
It was with great relief we heard the caretaker of Maasdam Barns had occupied the apartment, thinking the caretaker would take care of the property, perhaps with our occasional help. However, MG has been informed that it is our responsibility to maintain the watering schedule, weeding and planting of the landscape. We are all willing to continue to work with the Maasdam Barns board and the caretakers to continue the beautification of the grounds, including seeking grants to install a watering system to decrease the involvement of MG in watering.
There are many wanting to perform community service. Perhaps high school students with hours to fulfill, or others, who just want to be useful, could take on some of the tasks MG have been asked to do to keep Fairfield looking great. A big thank you goes to my fellow MG for all you have done and continue to do.
— Julie Johnston, Packwood