Class series or “lunch-n-learns” are popular projects for MGEVs and a great way to share research-based gardening information with the public. The series spans weeks or even months, with individual sessions scheduled at regular intervals. The individual sessions, usually an hour or less, are the perfect amount of information for the adult learner. There is enough time for the MGEV to present the topic, explain several supporting details, and answer any questions from the audience.
There are plenty of opportunities for MGEVs to be involved in the series, even if you don’t like public speaking! Not everyone involved in the project needs to be a speaker. For example, the event needs to be advertised and marketed. Room arrangements need to be made. Equipment, such as a computer, screen, and possibly a microphone, needs to be arranged for, set up, and taken down. A speaker needs to be designated for each date. It is smart to have a back-up presenter in case the speaker becomes ill or is unable to give the presentation at the last minute. A helper at the class or presentation can help with registration, distribute handouts, moderate questions, and collect the information that Extension needs to report the event. Things tend to run more smoothly with a lead coordinator who can communicate with others on the team so make sure that all steps are completed. All of these roles can be covered by different people, therefore sharing the responsibilities for the event.
These types of series may be listed in MGLOG as the series itself, or they may simply be part of the Speakers’ Bureau. In either case, it is important to count how many individuals (adult and children) attend the event. A sign-in sheet can be used to capture who attends. This gives individuals a chance to indicate their demographic information and to request that they receive future event notification from Extension. Additionally, your Agent needs to know how much time was actually spent teaching the audience. When all MGEVs involved in the event log their volunteer hours in MGLOG, the total amount of volunteer hours can also be calculated for the event. All of this information is important to share with your Agent, whether with a paper version of an Educational Activity Report (EAR) or by entering the information in MGLOG as an EAR.
The possible topics for class series like this are endless! Maybe you choose to do a themed series. With one main theme, the classes presented over a series of weeks and months help the audience to take in a larger idea. This might encourage people to attend more than one of the classes. Here are a few examples:
- Grow-Your-Own: Starting Vegetables from Seed, Transplanting Vegetables into the Garden, Growing and Harvesting a Home Garden, Herbs for the Home Garden, Crop Rotation, Diseases and Insects in the Vegetable Garden, Heirloom Vegetables, Harvesting the Vegetable Garden, Growing Vegetables in Containers
- Landscaping Your Home: Small Shrubs, Creating Hedges from Plants, Trees for Small Gardens, Perennials for Sunny Gardens, The Shade Garden, Native Plants for the Home Landscape, Rain Gardens, Year-Round Color, Pruning Roses
- Once-a-Month Gardening: Fairy Gardens, Terrarium Gardens, Air Plants, Container Gardening, Living Wreaths, Repotting Houseplants
- Inventory Expansion: Growing Annuals and Perennials from Seed, Air Layering for the Home Garden, Dividing Perennials in the Home Garden, Growing Shrubs from Cuttings
- The Modern Kitchen Garden: Growing Greens, Growing Herbs, Tree Fruit, Root Vegetables, Vegetables for Cold Salads, The Root Cellar, Integrated Pest Management Techniques, Seasonal Vegetables, The Winter Garden, Small Fruit
- Natural Colors and Dyes from Plant Materials
- Decorating with Live and Dried Plants
- Growing Flowers for Cutting
- Flower Arranging
- Gardening for Wildlife
- Mulching the Garden
- Soil Testing
- Drying and Pressing Flowers from Your Garden
- Plants with Showy Bark
- Gardens for Pollinators
- Plants that Climb and Ramble
- Square-Foot Gardening
Can you think of other topics? If you have been a part of a MGEV class series, what topics did you cover?