Southeast Master Gardeners trained to tackle watershed issues using cost-effective distance teaching technology
Bauske, Ellen M.
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Teams of Master Gardener coordinators, Extension agents and specialists from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina met and pooled their resources to develop an advanced training for Master Gardener (MG) volunteers on urban water issues. The training, “Advance Concepts in Water Smart Landscape Design,” includes many aspects of watershed management not generally covered in MG training, such as non-point sources of water pollution, the effect of impervious surfaces and infiltration on water quality, the role of sediment as a pollutant, and assessing stream habitat and water quality. Each state team developed one, 2.5 hour training and delivered it to over 250 MGs spread out in 22 locations in four states. The trainings were presented using internetbased “live classroom” technologies. Extension professionals in each location developed hands-on afternoon activities, assuring the trainings were locally relevant and encouraging active participation in the teaching process. MG volunteers often deal directly with home owners and home owner activities have a significant impact on both water quality and quantity in urban watersheds. MG volunteers will deliver this information to homeowners and others in their communities as they make presentations, answer questions and attend public gardens.