New Member Orientation
Baxter County Master Gardeners
The Master Gardener Program is offered by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. This program is designed to increase the availability of horticultural information, to provide community education opportunities and to improve the quality of life through horticultural garden projects and public education events.
The Baxter County Master Gardener (BCMG) program began in 1994. Master Gardeners is a formal organization of qualified and trained Arkansas Master Gardeners. The group has officers, a board of directors, bylaws, dues, regular meetings, public education events and community projects.
The Board of Directors meets separately from the general membership meetings. Most of the “business” of BCMG is conducted at board of director meetings and then reported to the membership so that the general membership meetings can focus on educational topics.
The group collects $10.00 annual dues from each member. Dues are payable as of February 1st of each year. New Master Gardeners pay their first year’s dues as part of their tuition.
The recording and reporting of all working and learning hours is a small but important part of a Master Gardener’s commitment. These figures are crucial to justify programs and to procure funding on many levels.
NEW Master Gardeners are expected to volunteer 40 hours of work within the first year plus 20 hours of learning. These hours are earned between the period of January 1st through December 31st. A minimum of fifty per cent of the working hours must be on BCMG sanctioned projects.
After the first year, members desiring to remain a Master Gardener must re-certify. Twenty hours of continuing education activities plus 20 hours of volunteer work are required yearly for re-certification. A minimum of half of these work hours must be on sanctioned projects.
The State Master Gardener Program now has on line reporting of hours. Instructions and access for on line reporting of your Master Gardener hours are found on the Baxter County Master Gardener website under Members Only, Enter Your Hours. If you do not have computer access you may continue to report your hours to the Timekeeper on time sheet forms. Time sheets are available at the extension office, and can be printed from BCMG web site. It benefits everyone if your hours are turned in on a monthly basis. It is important to report ALL hours—even if you have reached the required amount. Our total hours are reported to the State Master Gardener office as well as to the volunteerism coordinator for our local communities.
Working hours can be earned in a variety of ways and involve activities in which you are working to help others. The key is that someone else is receiving the benefit of your knowledge or activity.
Sanctioned Work: A county sanctioned project is one that has gone through a specific proposal procedure, has been accepted by the Master Gardener membership as one of the group’s official projects and has been approved by the County Agent. County sanctioned public education events go through the same procedure. Other means of earning sanctioned hours are board approved sanctioned activities and are listed on the Time sheet form.
Ways to earn Sanctioned Work Hours:
- Attend monthly meetings: Usually 1 hour sanctioned work and 1 hour education.
- Volunteer to help set up and clean up at monthly meetings.
- Volunteer & sign up to help with refreshments at monthly meetings.
- Be reliable—if you say you will be there, then be there. If you can’t be there, you should find a replacement.
- Volunteer to be a ‘Phone Buddy’ to forward Buddy Messages to members without e-mail.
- Help at the various site projects. You will learn about gardening and you will get to know other members. . Many BCMG’s choose two favorite projects and work them on a regular basis.It can be digging, photography, education, watering, planning, writing history, plant research
- Check on projects on your own. If you see a problem, call the project chair and volunteer to help solve the problem (watering, weeding, pruning, etc.).
- Call Mark’s office to get on a list of BCMG’s that Saundria can call when she needs help with BCMG things –such as stapling or folding pamphlets.
- Ask Mark if he needs help with the new class or if he needs help in other ways. He will put your name on a list to call.
- If you have good computer skills and can keyboard pamphlets and other things for the organization, ask the president to be put on a list to be called when needed.
- Volunteer to chair, co-chair or serve on various committees on projects, public events or in other positions.
- Offer to assist any project or public event coordinator or other BCMG staff as needed.
Suggestions for earning ‘Other’ work hours:
- Volunteer to help with 4-H when the leaders need help educating youth about gardening.. Call the Extension office at 425-2335. Tell the president when you help with 4-H or other groups. All such help focuses on horticulture education – showing how to plant, etc.
- Take on an individual community service project as landscaping a local public area.
- Give horticulture advice to a neighbor, as how to compost, how to prune or how to take a soil sample.
Learning or Continuing Education hours involve functions in which you are the principal beneficiary. Learning hours are simply continuing education to ensure that Master Gardeners continue to expand their horticulture knowledge and skills.
- This could include horticultural subjects covered in classes, seminars or BCMG meetings (the program portion of monthly meetings)
- Reading horticultural books, magazines or literature.
- Watching TV programs related to horticulture.
- Researching horticulture issues on the Internet.
- Going on garden tours or wildflower walks.
- Visiting Botanical Gardens.
Since all working hours are, in essence, a learning experience, a Master Gardener may choose to count some of the working hours as learning hours. However, the same hours are not to be counted in both categories and learning hours may not be counted as working hours.
Travel time is not counted for either learning or working hours.
Baxter County Master Gardener Apparel
Apparel such as BCMG Shirts and Caps with the BCMG logos can be purchased at the Shirt Shop on Highway 5 North (across from KTLO Radio). The “Official” BCMG color is Hunter Green and is worn especially at group Public Events. Another source of apparel, light blue denim shirts with the BCMG embroidered logo, can be ordered and purchased through the BCMG.
All new BCMG projects must be accepted in a proposal and approved by the Project Review Committee, the Master Gardener membership, and the County Agent before volunteer hours will be credited as sanctioned hours.
New Class Project Participation
Each new class of Master Gardeners is expected to work on current projects. A member of our Board of Directors will explain the parameters of the projects and facilitate participation in each project.
Baxter County Fairgrounds
The raised bed at the entrance to the Educational Exhibits Building has been landscaped with low maintenance plants along a dry streambed. Master Gardeners maintain the area and add seasonal color. A drip irrigation system has been installed to keep these beds regularly watered.
Bull Shoals White River State Park
Concentrating on the boat dock area and the spring area down to the White River, this project involves landscaping, including planting shrubs and other plants. Raised beds at entrance signs are planted with seasonal color and drought resistant plants.
Cabins at Rapps Barren Settlement in Cooper Park
Master Gardeners cultivate two of the gardens here. The Shotgun House and G.W.Jones cabin.
- Shotgun House Beds of native flowers, herbs, and shrubs have been planted around the early 1900’s log farm house.
- George Washington Jones Cabin Borders of old-fashion flowers were planted around the log cabin, which depicts early 1900’s American settler homes.
Memorial Garden at 1st Presbyterian Church
This courtyard garden includes a fountain, benches, shrubs, trees bulbs and flowers. It is used as a teaching garden for the Master Gardeners. BCMG membership meetings are held at this location.
A previously bare area at the corner of Highway 62 West and Ninth Street, now has a border of all season interest visible from the highway, including canna plants, small bushes and other flowers arranged in the planting bed.
Clysta Willett Nature Trail & Native Plant Garden
Members work with the Mountain Home Parks and Recreation staff to develop and maintain nature trails and horticultural points of interest in the park using native plant materials.
Norfork National Fish Hatchery
This is funded by the Friends of the Hatchery and worked by the Master Gardeners. Master Gardeners created a flower bed in front of the visitor center that contains Arkansas natives and plants that attract bees and butterflies. This project also includes beds in front of the office and at the entrance sign.
Members of this group support the Hatchery Outdoor Adventure. This is an event put on by the Friends of the Hatchery that provides educational opportunities for children.
Sanctioned Public Education Events
Public Education Events must also be accepted in a proposal and approved by the Project Review Committee, the Master Gardener membership, and the County Agent before volunteer hours will be credited as sanctioned hours.
Since 1995, BCMG members have sponsored daylong gardening seminars with a total of 1838 people attending. BCMG Coordinators for the seminars were Bob Merrill-1995, Sally Lee-1996, Jimmylu Syme-1997, Lucinda Reynolds-1998, Audrey Holt-1999, Jimmie Jones-2000, Patti Smith-2001, John and Barb Skeffington–2002 & 2003, Anita Knack / “Tish” Maye-2004 & 2005, “Tish” Maye / Mike Kuenzli-2006, Mike Kuenzli / Bob Jenkins-2007, Dian Lawrence/Suzanne Middleton- 2008, Werner Paulhardt and Sandy Jensen-2009. Linda Gabric/Tamara Carl – 2010 & 2011, Linda Westmoreland 2012, Janie Robbins for 2013 & 2014, and Frank Sinning for 2015 & 2016. See the Spring Seminar page under the Public Events & Outreach tab for more information.
The Horticulture Table, a division of member education, is a part of every Baxter County Master Gardener membership meeting. A pre-meeting message is sent to members announcing the planned topic for the Horticulture Table and suggested items to bring. The topic may be related to the program of the day, the season or another topic of interest. A member of the Horticulture Table Committee usually leads the discussion.
As a means of educating other members of what grows well here as well as what doesn’t, items brought may be cut plant specimens, vegetables, fruit, seeds, plants to avoid planting and why, beneficial and harmful insects, examples of diseased plant materials, (diseased items should be sealed in containers as Zip-lock bags). Books, magazines and tools that members have found helpful are also displayed on the table.
The Horticulture Table helps us learn about various aspects of gardening. It is a means of sharing knowledge and information about many aspects of horticulture, not just about plants. Hummingbird nests, nematode-infested roots, cucumber beetles, ladybug larva, and members’ artwork have all been displayed. Members are encouraged to talk about what they brought. It is meant to be an enjoyable, fun way to share our knowledge and to learn from and about each other.
The specimens brought are displayed with a form containing the following information: name of plant (botanical, common, cultivar/variety), plant type, sun requirements, water requirements, special needs, mature plant size, plant bloom time, and name of the person displaying specimen. Forms are provided that may be filled out with this information.
The “Plant Specimen ID Form” is filled out for each specimen displayed on the Horticulture Table. See the forms section in the Members Only section of the website to download a printable form.
Horticultural Clinics or Booths
BCMG members conduct periodic horticultural clinics with Master Gardeners answering questions. These clinics or booths have been held at local nurseries, bookstores, gardening centers.
BCMG Annual Plant Sales
Members donate plant seedlings, plant divisions, vegetables, herbs, flowers, bulbs, tubers, shrubs and trees to raise funds for projects. Planting and growing tips are provided with the plants. Master Gardeners staff the plant sale, assist shoppers with their purchases and answer many additional gardening questions.
Baxter County Fair Horticulture Room and Booth
BCMGs manage the exhibit listings for the horticulture section of the Baxter County Fair Book. They oversee the horticulture room including Junior and Senior Horticulture Exhibits from set up to take down. Coordinators recruit and train other MGs to register exhibits and to staff the horticulture room at fair time. Informational guides, providing detailed information about selecting, preparing and judging fruits, herbs, vegetables, plants, flowers and floral arrangements, written and published by members, help educate the public to be better exhibitors.. A grooming table for exhibits is also staffed by BCMGs during fair registration to assist exhibitors with final entry preparations.
Special Interest Groups (SIGS)
The SIG concept provides Master Gardeners interested in specific gardening subjects, opportunities to meet apart from membership meetings to learn about these areas in more depth. SIG information will be published in newsletter or Buddy Messages.