Program trains local gardeners to provide research-based horticulture information to Nevadans
The results of Nevada’s Washoe County 2012 Horticulture Needs Assessment identified the following issues: home food production and edible landscaping, diagnosis and management of plant pests (insects, disease, weeds), local food production and urban agriculture, sustainable landscaping practices (including native plant landscaping), and landscape water conservation. In addition, the Mojave Desert’s unique conditions require special training. Both the Clark County and Washoe County Cooperative Extension offices receive thousands of phone calls and emails, as well as visits to the office, from people requesting assistance, which can easily overwhelm faculty and staff resources.
Response/What’s Been Done
Across Nevada, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners volunteered 44,913 hours in 2017. Some Master Gardener volunteer activities are consistent throughout the state, including teaching classes, offering garden tours, staffing information booths at community events, and answering questions in person at Extension offices and through email and telephone. In addition, Master Gardeners in each county performed activities and events specific to the county. Master Gardeners also presented for the Southern Utah Green conference.
Results/Impact and Partners
According to eXtension in 2009, Master Gardeners average helping five community members for each hour of volunteer time. Using this formula, Master Gardeners in Washoe County have helped 352,550 community members since 2010. Also since 2010, Clark County Master Gardeners have had 289,609 face-to-face interactions with community members and volunteered 277,803 hours.
In 2017, in Washoe County, 32 students completed the coursework required to become Master Gardeners. As of July 2018, over half have completed the volunteer time required to become certified Master Gardeners. The 32 students rated their confidence on topics from 1 (low) to 5 (high) before and after the program, reporting the following average confidence increases:
- 96 percent for native plants in the landscape
- 51 percent for potting media and container gardening
- 42 percent for water efficiency in the landscape
- 46 percent for plant problem diagnosis
In Clark County, a Master Gardener earned second place at the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference in Oregon for her work with milkweeds to promote pollinators in southern Nevada. 35 Master Gardeners were certified and asked to rate their knowledge on topics from 1 (little) to 5 (a lot) before and after the program, reporting the following average knowledge increases:
- 2.8 in fertilizers
- 1.8 in edible landscapes
- 1.2 in how to teach adults
- 2.1 in plant diseases
- 2.0 in weeds
- 2.2 in botany
- 2.2 in soil amendments
- 1.4 in soils
- 1.8 in vegetables
- 1.8 in gardening smarter
Partners included Washoe County; Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space; Carson City Parks and Recreation; Clark County; Nevada Department of Agriculture; Nevada Department of Wildlife; College of Southern Nevada; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Schilling Horticulture Group; National Audubon Society; Great Basin Water Company; Nevada Hemp Association; Town of Gardnerville; Douglas County Parks; local nurseries; home stores; irrigation companies; businesses and organizations.