Conference Session This event was part of the eXtension 2012 National Conference
With reduced budgets/staff and increased programmatic responsibilities, how do Educators maximize limited time and resources to meet the growing demands of the gardening public? The Michigan State University Extension Educator team was faced with the daunting task of delivering science-based, environmentally sound information to a potential 8+ million gardeners. Using technology as the main thread for success, the innovative solution weaves together new educational products, services, delivery systems, and collaborations. The team launched the Gardening in Michigan website as a platform to offer online classes/resources. The Ask-an-Expert widget is used along with a statewide, toll-free Lawn and Garden Hotline staffed with highly trained Master Gardeners (MG) allowing residents 24/7 access to gardening experts. The team also created a comprehensive home lawn and garden soil test kit complete with postage-paid return envelope and is linked to the interactive MSU Soil Test website providing customized electronically-delivered fertilizer recommendations and access to additional resources. The MG Program was redesigned to reduce volunteer management time and create a statewide, easy-to-replicate program integrating a hybrid in-person/electronic delivery method. This presentation highlights successes of this suite of widely accessible gardening resources that are cross-marketed/promoted; allowing Educators to meet clients’ needs without being spread too thin.
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