Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vines of Change

Solanum wendlandii
I was on the UGA Athens campus yesterday during Extension's Program Planning Week. I had a few minutes to check out the UGA Trial Garden. There were several vines growing in the garden that caught my attention. I think my favorite was a potato vine, Solanum wendlandii. I admired the distinctly solanaceous blue flowers (that my camera does not do justice), the leaves that contrast to nearly everything in my (imaginary) garden, and the evident vigor of the vine (easily 12' with thick stem sections and lots of flowers). I didn't notice the short thorns that Allan Armitage notes in his Herbaceous Perennial Plants book, but that's not to say they are not there.

There are so many plants new to me since my move to Georgia. So many things that used to work fine in my Virginia garden, but are poor choices here. So many new plants to choose from for color in parts of the seasons that I did not know was possible.

So it is with the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program. There are so many things that used to work fine, but now there are changes. So many things that are new and offer uncharted possibility...

On Tuesday, I sent out clarifications about the updated UGA Volunteer Policy. I have been receiving some great feedback from MGs and Agents across the state. Thank you for taking the time to forward your comments.

I think we can all recognize the change in the air for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program. Take a look back at Chapter 29 in your Georgia Master Gardener Handbook. The chapter takes us through the stages of group development. When I read the chapter the first time, this sentence grabbed my attention:

"By identifying the stage a group is at (or about to enter), a leader can time interventions so that the group will be ready at the appropriate time to move forward."

I find encouragement in the words "so that the group will be ready at the appropriate time to move forward". The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program will be ready to move forward. 

What can we do to move forward? What is already in play that we can work from? Consider these exciting tidbits...

  • A MG Advisory Panel was formed and met for the first time last week. This advisory group to the State MG Coordinator is critical to hearing from the local level. Agents, program assistants, and MGs are participating in this panel to work through challenges for the Georgia MGEV Program. More information to come on the first meeting...
  • Communication has increased. We now have a newsletter for MGEVs (The Volunteer Vine), we have this blog for discussions, a website for the Georgia MGEV program, and we have a facebook page.
  • Advanced Training is returning to the MGEV program. We have exciting new opportunities to build our skills to make us better community educators. "Creative Teaching Techniques" will be offered in October, and several exciting events are being planned for 2013.
  • Local presence...I have scheduled numerous visits throughout the state this fall and into early winter. I want to know what you are working on in your local communities. I want to know what tools you need to do your job as a MGEV. I want to know what makes you happy, why you invest countless hours in your community on behalf of UGA Cooperative Extension.
Thank you to each of you for continuing to partner with UGA Cooperative Extension in extending sound horticulture and gardening information to the public. I hope you will, indeed, be ready to move forward and accomplish exciting results!

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