President’s Message (03/11)

Every time a clinic shift comes up in my calendar, I look to see who I’m working with.  Having served as a Master Gardener now for several years, I know many of my clinic cohort and it’s nice to reconnect with folks I don’t always see regularly.  As much as I respect and enjoy my old friends, I especially love to work with interns.  I like getting to know the new folks, to hear what inspired them to become MGs, and to learn what they’re exploring in our county-wide public outreach efforts.  On a purely superficial level, it’s nice to sit with interns who think I know everything.  There’s so much more fun, though, in hearing what they bring from their own experience and the training they received.

Training has changed a lot in the past couple of years.  New research forces changes in training on various topics.  Customer service has become a regular topic for training with mock clinics and roleplays now a regular portion of training.  Online training is now a major component of the education of new interns, changing the rhythm of the work interns are doing during their quarter in training.  This year a landscape design component is bringing collaboration into the mix of training, encouraging team work and discussion as never before.  The changes in training reflect some of the changes in Extension itself, but they also speak to the unique opportunities we have in King County to create what works for us.  Because our county is so large and so diverse economically, culturally, geographically, horticulturally, and politically we are, and we must be, constantly trying new things to better reach those with questions about our shared bio-region.

Why, though, do we become MGs?  And why do we remain?  The Foundation board recently began a conversation to try to articulate our common values and goals as they relate to the public outreach mission of the program, and the support mission of the MGFKC.  I realized at our long-range planning meeting in January that although we assume we share common values and goals, without discussion and articulation that may or may not be the case.  Certainly, it can’t hurt us to talk about what brings us together.  For me personally, and I know for many of us, we serve as MGs because of our deeply held love and concern for our shared home.  Our understanding of our shared environmental challenges isn’t purely academic.  We touch our soil.  We measure and gauge our water use.  We track our produce yields.  We gnash our teeth during early and late snows.  We strive to connect for the public the ways we use our own yards, gardens, and parks with the cumulative effects we all experience in water and air quality and climate change.  For me, ours is a process to share our personal relationships with our physical environment in ways that make them real for folks who have only begun their own as well as for people far more engaged than we are.

Let’s have conversation about these issues.  Let’s try to say where we are collectively and why so our path ahead may become clearer.  If you have thoughts, please share them with me or another board member.  Or, as always, join us at a board meeting the second Thursday of each month from 6:30-8:30.  April’s meeting will be held at the Foster Library in Tukwilla and future meetings will be held around the county, at libraries, gardens, and who knows where else?  Watch News You Can Use and the Foundation newsletter for meeting locations.  If you can’t make it to a meeting, come to the plant sale over Mother’s Day weekend and share your ideas.  I’ll be there, in ornamentals, all weekend and many board members will, too.  Let us know what you think.

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