Trellis

Engaging Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers in meaningful discussion about volunteering, outreach and community.

‘Tis the Season… for Reporting

IMG_5950All around us are signs that the calendar year is coming to a close. Our petunias are gone from the garden and trees have shed their fall beauty. The garden centers are stocked with indoor selections, such as cut trees and tropical foliage plants. For us, these are reminders that our year is ending, and it is time … to submit our MGEV hours!

We’re excited this year to generate the Georgia MGEV Annual Report from our new recordkeeping system, MGLOG. This system makes it easy on the individual — you just need to log the hours into the system. It also makes it easier for Agents and Program Coordinators. Once they have reminded MGEVs a couple of times and checked to see that everyone has reported, they can relax. Likewise, at the state level, everything we need is in MGLOG and the calculations quickly show us the result of MGEVs across the state.

For years, we have thought of the end of the year as “time to report.” That doesn’t seem like much fun. I see it, instead, as time to tell our stories — stories of gardeners making a difference in their neighbor’s lives, in the lives of children, in the health of the environment, in the fabric of  Georgia communities. Doesn’t that sound way more interesting?!

What kind of story should our annual report tell? For years, our state report has told the story of thousands of individuals and hours, miles driven, and number of times volunteers have reported against particular project categories. Yet, when I go visit local prIMG_4820ograms, I hear far more exciting  details. Take, for example, a project in Cobb County. (This one really caught my attention, so you may have heard me talk about it already.) Coordinator Renae Lemon and Agent Neil Tarver told me things like, “before MGEVs took on this project, the kids’ diet didn’t include fruits and vegetables.” So, MGEVs set about building raised beds and teaching the residents how to grow good things to eat, like beans and tomatoes. This year, they made jam from the blackberries and other small fruits that they harvested from their gardens.

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Raspberries

The residents, children and young adults ages 13 to 21, are embarking on a new project very soon. A bed had been prepared to for planting flowers with the intent to sell bouquets. How cool is that?!

Freshly-tilled plot awaiting cut flowers

Freshly-tilled plot awaiting cut flowers

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Houston County MGEV Sofie Sauri demonstrates how to repot an orchid at the 2013 Georgia National Fair in Perry, GA

What about the hundreds of presentations that MGEVs give all over Georgia, on topics ranging from repotting orchids to saving seeds? I bet there are some really good stories out there — how you’ve made a huge difference in someone’s gardening experience, solved a problem for someone, or encouraged a whole group of people to try a new plant. Have you ever thought what the sum of these presentations looks like? Communities that are attractive, desirable places to live; water that is not polluted from excess nitrogen originally applied to lawns; yardwaste that did not end up in a landfill somewhere or kitchen waste that did not go down the drain.

There are some amazing stories out there — you know I am talking about you and your projects! We’ll take a look at our reporting process and figure out how to share those stories so we don’t miss the significance of what Georgia MGEVs really accomplish. I welcome input in this process, so feel free to use the comment section below or send me an email. I can’t wait to learn more — how about you?!

PS: It is time to report those hours! If you’ve already recorded them in MGLOG, thank you! If not, you have until January 30, 2015, to get those 2014 hours logged!

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sdorn

About sdorn

Sheri is the State Coordinator for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program and Extension Specialist for Consumer Ornamentals. When she is not traveling about the state of Georgia admiring the work of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, she spends time in her own (real and virtual) gardens.