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SFE Third Place

Congratulations to the UC Master Gardener Program of Santa Clara County for winning third place in the Search for Excellence (SFE) competition. The SFE is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the tremendous talents of UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state. A panel of judges reviewed and scored fourteen county submissions about mission-focused educational and innovative projects performed over the past three years. Santa Clara County's Morning at Martial Cottle Park project took third place by standing out with its quality of impact on the population served. One judge remarked “This project is clearly successful and beloved by the community. Congratulations on a wonderful and highly-sought after project that greatly impacts youth with both gardening and nutrition education.”

Field Trip

Working together with community partners the UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County created and taught a science and nutrition-based curricula for field trips at San Jose's Martial Cottel Park. Through dynamic, hands-on, outdoor lessons in a garden setting, second graders take part in a half-day of healthy food and science learning. Local grants helped pay for the cost of transportation for Title 1 schools and schools in low-income neighborhoods.

Learning Stations

Centuries old oak trees, native plants, flowers, and raised garden beds serve as the backdrop for this extraordinary four-acre teaching and demonstration garden managed by UC Master Gardener volunteers. Students, teachers and chaperones rotate through four learning stations around the garden, every 25 minutes while being taught about a plants lifecycle, insects, pests vs. beneficial insects, and nutrition through growing and eating healthy fruit and vegetables.

 

Second graders actively participating at their learning stations.

Station 1. Plant life cycle

Photographs and harvested plant materials are arranged on a pizza pan to show the plant lifecycle. Students plant sunflower seeds in a garden bed and in a pot to take home and watch grow.

Station 2. Nutrition

Co-taught with CalFresh Healthy Living nutrition educators, students get to taste and sort vegetables, then plant and label seeds in a salad bowl. “Surprise” vegetables are pulled from a grab-bag to discuss the benefits of eating different colored vegetables.

Station 3. Insect anatomy and adaptation

Through song and drawings student learn about an insect's anatomy. Students get to use playdough to create insects and label its body parts.

Station 4. Pests vs. beneficial insects

Students are shown how to properly collect insects, they are then released into the garden to collect any insects they can find.  After proper identification beneficial insects are released.

At the end of the day the students, teachers and UC Master Gardener volunteers gather together to review what they have learned. Families are encouraged to return to the garden anytime during the garden's normal open hours.

Partnering with the Community

Working together with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the Santa Clara County Parks Department, CalFresh Healthy Living, and local schools, UC Master Gardener volunteers engaged with low income schools and special needs classes, serving 25 classes and more than 600 students in 24 months. “I have a special needs brother and I think you all did a really good job. Don't change a thing!” said a teacher following a recent field trip. For some students their visit to Martial Cottel Park is their first time in a garden or hearing about how plants and food grow. UC Master Gardener volunteers are thrilled to be able to introduce these students to the wonders of science and horticulture. 

Some of the volunteers that make the Santa Clara County's Morning at Martial Cottle Park field trips possible.

Virtual UC Master Gardener Mini Conference, Sept. 29 - Oct. 1

Join us LIVE online for 2020 UC Master Gardener Virtual Conference, where you can learn more about this project directly from the volunteers involved. The conference is free and open to the general public, all levels of gardeners are welcome!  Sessions will stream LIVE, Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 to the UC Master Gardener Program's YouTube channel and Facebook page. Registration is not required, just pick and choose what sessions you would like to attend. All session are being recorded and posted on YouTube but we hope you can join in LIVE.

Pssst! UC Master Gardener volunteers can earn continuing education hours for attending, click here for more information. 

 

About us

The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from the University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 51 California counties and 6,297 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 328,540 hours last year and have donated more than 5 million hours since the program inception in 1980.

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 11:45 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Mission-Focused Project in Undeserved Community takes Second Place

Congratulations to the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County for winning second place in the Search for Excellence (SFE) competition. The SFE is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the tremendous talents of UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state. A panel of judges reviewed and scored fourteen county submissions about mission-focused educational and innovative projects performed over the past three years. Contra Costa County's Gardening with Underserved Communities project took second place and scored the highest out of all submissions in the area of consistency with the UC Master Gardener Program's Mission

Gardening with Underserved Communities

Gardens can bring people together regardless of their race, color, age, sex, disability, or religion. The UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County wanted to meet people where they are in their communities across the county; and ensure they had access to quality sustainable gardening information and resources from the University. Collaborating with Contra Costa Health Services, the County Department of Behavioral Health, Bi-Bett Corporation, Eden Housing, and the Veteran's Affair campus the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County created a series of gardening lessons for outreach at senior centers, residential treatment centers, and at the local Veterans Administration campus.

The Lessons

UC Master Gardener volunteers developed a series of gardening lessons aimed to serve a diverse community of individuals with limited mobility, mental health conditions (including addiction and PTSD), or language barriers. Volunteers carefully identified key gardening topics and the best delivery options to suit a variety of learning styles. All of the gardening lessons combine interactive lessons with hands-on learning. Some of the lesson topics covered include vegetable gardening, soil health, composting, best practices to support pollinators, and how to manage pests in the garden.                                                                                              

Community Wide

Together with its diverse network of community partners, the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County has supported more than 2,000 individuals in their gardening efforts since the project started in 2017. Participants have gone on to apply their knowledge in their own gardens, volunteered at a local community garden, or pursued additional training.

Testimonials from participants demonstrate how much of an impact this project has on participant's mental health, and personal well-being. One participant remarked “I feel like I am learning something that I can take with me to the outside world. I am learning things that I can do at home and occupy my mind.” Garden-based learning programs like create a positive learning experience for participants like this person, “There are so many things I never knew. I thought you just planted a few seeds, watered it and watched it grow. I didn't know there is a whole science behind gardening…I also like that, in the end, you have things to take to your kitchen table.”

Virtual UC Master Gardener Mini Conference Sept. 29 - Oct. 1

Join us LIVE online for 2020 UC Master Gardener Virtual Conference, where you can learn more about this project directly from the volunteers involved. The conference is free and open to the general public, all levels of gardeners are welcome!  Sessions will stream LIVE, Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 to the UC Master Gardener Program's YouTube channel and Facebook page. Registration is not required, just pick and choose what sessions you would like to attend. All session are being recorded and posted on YouTube but we hope you can join in LIVE.

Pssst! UC Master Gardener volunteers can earn continuing education hours for attending, click here for more information. 

About us

The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from the University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 51 California counties and 6,297 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 328,540 hours last year and have donated more than 5 million hours since the program inception in 1980.

 

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 11:43 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Sensory Gardening Project Takes Top Prize

Congratulations to the UC Master Gardener Program of San Diego County for winning first place in the Search for Excellence (SFE) competition! The SFE competition is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the tremendous talents of UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state. A panel of judges reviewed and scored fourteen county submissions about mission-focused educational and innovative projects performed over the past three years. San Diego County's Reminiscence Gardening project took first place and wowed the judges with its impact on participants, its low programming costs, and its ease of being replicated by other county programs. 

Reminiscence Gardening

UC Master Gardener volunteers in San Diego County saw an opportunity to collaborate with residential memory care communities and Alzheimer's San Diego to provide sensory exploration and tabletop gardening activities for individuals living with dementia and their care partners. Run by a dedicated committee with co-chairs taking on the planning, scheduling and budgeting responsibility a team of volunteers is brought together for a one hour educational and hands-on activity.  Since the projects inception in 2018, and with the help of 50 UC Master Gardener volunteers, more than 1,000 individuals living with dementia and their family members, caregivers and staff have been able to participate.  Serving nine different residential care facilities across San Diego County the Reminiscence Gardening project provides step-by-step instructions for gardening activities that can easily be replicated at home.

Each activity has a team of UC Master Gardener volunteers who are prepped and ready to engage participants in a way that encourages social interactions, stimulates garden memories, promotes relaxation, and helps to relieve stress. With thoughtful planning and care, participants are paired with a UC Master Gardener volunteer, “garden partner,” who guides and assists them through a two part activity.  

Part One- Sensory Exploration. Participants explore various herbs, fruits & vegetables, and garden cuttings to activate different senses (sight, touch and smell). Large-piece puzzles and books with colorful garden scenes, plus seed packets and vintage garden tools are shared. The purpose of sensory exploration is to gently guide the resident to pleasant memories of being in the garden, outside in the fresh air or picking their favorite fruit.

The sensory exploration table is full of items to see, touch and smell.

Part Two- Table-top Gardening. With the assistance of their UC Master Gardener “garden partner,” residents retune gardening skills within their ability and create a garden in a pot, using colorful and seasonal plants. Specially designed tidy trays with soil, trowels, pots, and plants are available and disposable gloves are worn to protect against soilborne infections. The table-top gardening activity facilitates eye-hand coordination and creative expression. Participants take their new “garden” to their room or place it in the activity room for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

Part two of the activity is a good play in the dirt with table-top gardening.

The Reminiscence Gardening project is funded through several sources which include a local community grant and donations to the program.  Funds are used to purchase durable goods to supply four team leaders with a full set of supplies to facilitate activities in their area. Activity consumables vary depending on the particulars of the activity, but a typical expense for 16 participants at a memory care community is around $75.

Virtual UC Master Gardener Mini Conference Sept. 29 - Oct. 1

Join us LIVE online for 2020 UC Master Gardener Virtual Conference, where you can learn more about this project directly from the volunteers involved. The conference is free and open to the general public, all levels of gardeners are welcome!  Sessions will stream LIVE, Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 to the UC Master Gardener Program's YouTube channel and Facebook page. Registration is not required, just pick and choose what sessions you would like to attend. All session are being recorded and posted on YouTube but we hope you can join in LIVE.

Pssst! UC Master Gardener volunteers can earn continuing education hours for attending, click here for more information. 

About us

The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from the University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 51 California counties and 6,297 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 328,540 hours last year and have donated more than 5 million hours since the program inception in 1980.

 

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 11:41 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Virtual 2020 UC Master Gardener Mini Conference Sept. 29 - Oct 1

Although the in-person 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference has been canceled we are happy to invite everyone (including the public) to the FREE virtual mini-conference Sept. 29 – Oct. 1.  All levels of gardeners are welcome, and so is the general the public!

We will be streaming LIVE to the UC Master Gardener YouTube channel and Facebook page, just pick the platform you prefer. Registration not required, pick and choose what sessions to attend.  All session are being recorded and posted on YouTube but we hope you can join in LIVE.

 

Gardening

Attend presentations on houseplants, composting, fire safe landscaping and a presentation from the UC Master Food Preservers on ways to preserve your garden harvest.

UC Master Gardener Program

Join us for a panel discussion with our very own Gardeners with Heart as we discuss their volunteer experience with the UC Master Gardener Program. Enjoy presentations from the winners of the 2020 UC Master Gardener Program Search for Excellence competition. This competition recognizes projects that exemplify the incredible impacts programs are making across the state. 

Continuing Education Hours

The Virtual 2020 UC Master Gardener Mini Conference can be counted as continuing education hours for UC Master Gardener Volunteers.  Whether you join LIVE or watch the recording be sure to record your continuing education hours. Use the mini conference activity guide to determine how many continuing education hours you earned and record it into the Volunteer Management System (VMS).  

Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 7:17 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

UC Recognizes Outstanding Master Gardener Projects ‘Search for Excellence’ Awards

UC Master Gardener Programs in San Diego County, Contra Costa County, and Santa Clara County won the triennial Search for Excellence competition. In honor of their achievement, winning projects receive a cash prize to support local program delivery. Winners will present their projects at the 2020 UC Master Gardener Virtual Mini-Conference taking place online Sept. 29 - Oct. 1. Attend, enjoy, and learn more about these phenomenal 2020 Search for Excellence winners.

The Search for Excellence competition is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the tremendous talents of UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state. County programs were invited to submit educational and innovative projects for consideration for work performed over the past three years. A panel of four judges from outside the UC Master Gardener Program read and scored fourteen submissions.  Many of the judges expressed their gratitude and awe as there were so many projects with merit and clear alignment with the program's mission. Congratulations to all winners and contenders. - your work is inspiring and impactful.

First Place: 
San Diego County: Reminiscence Gardening
UC Master Gardener volunteers in San Diego County saw an opportunity to collaborate with residential memory care communities and Alzheimer's San Diego to provide sensory exploration and tabletop gardening activities for individuals living with dementia and their care partners.  Currently, the Reminiscence Gardening Program can be found in nine locations. At each location, a team of UC Master Gardener volunteers engage participants in a way that encourages social interactions, stimulates garden memories, promotes relaxation, and relieves stress. With thoughtful planning and care, participants are paired with a UC Master Gardener volunteer who, for the next hour, guides and assists them through several activities including table-top gardening. Participants leave with their own “garden” to place in the activity room for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

Second Place: 
Contra Costa County - Essentials of Vegetable Gardening: Lessons for Underserved Communities
UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County created a series of 18 focused gardening lessons that combine interactive talks with hands-on learning specifically designed for individuals with limited mobility, mental health issues (including addiction and PTSD), and language barriers. Topics include core lessons in vegetable gardening, such as soil and compost; how to care for plants; the role of pollinators; and IPM, plus optional lessons in propagation, succulents, etc. Through partnerships with Contra Costa County Department of Behavioral Health – Alcohol and Drug Services; Bi-Bett Corporation; Eden Housing; and the VA the program has been offered at senior centers, residential treatment centers and the Veterans Administration local campus.

Third Place: 
Santa Clara County - Mornings at Martial Cottle Park: Lessons in the garden for school children
In partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the Santa Clara County Parks Department, Cal Fresh Healthy Living, and local schools, two UC Master Gardener volunteers in Santa Clara County, with backgrounds in education, created a garden-based field trip program for second graders. The program's goal is to promote food and science literacy by using edible gardens linked to California nutrition and science education standards through dynamic, outdoor lessons at the UC Master Gardener Community Education Center and demonstration garden in Santa Clara. The four-acre Education Center is located within Martial Cottle Park in San Jose, Calif. Students rotate through four stations, covering topics on nutrition, plant life cycles, insect anatomy, and beneficial vs. pest insects. Students are taught garden manners and lesson objectives throughout the trip, families are encouraged to return to the garden during normal operating hours to continue their exploration and learning.

About us
The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from the University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops.  With programs based in 51 California counties and 6,297 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 328,540 hours last year and have donated more than 5 million hours since the program inception in 1980.

Posted on Friday, September 4, 2020 at 10:43 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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