Volunteers Help Make Extension Great!
Volunteering Benefits State and Spirit
By Jeremy Delisle and David White
“I am interested in becoming a volunteer and have heard about the Master Gardener Program offered through UNH Cooperative Extension. Can you tell me more about it? Are there other volunteer opportunities at Extension?” – Judy R., Hampton
To best answer this question, I spoke to David White, who joined UNH Cooperative Extension’sMaster Gardener Program in 2015.
Jeremy Delisle: What attracted you to the Master Gardener Program?
David White: As someone who has been a volunteer for many years in the non-profit area, I was looking for another way of using my time to work with others. I wanted a volunteering opportunity that would have some challenges, where I would meet new people, be provided information that may require listening with a different perspective, and continue to learn.
I had heard of a gardening program at UNH, but was not sure that gardening was the right match. However, after review of the program content and expectations, I found it to be more encompassing than what I saw as just gardening, and considered it to be a match for me. I applied and was accepted into the 2015 fall program.
JD: As a master gardener, what types of knowledge have you gained as part of the training?
DW: The program covered areas I would consider outside of gardening such as backyard chickens, food safety, and invasive insects and plants in New Hampshire. A number of myths were addressed by the program staff using researched-based information. For instance, I think back to the number of times I added lime to my lawn because of all the pine needles that had fallen, only to learn that a soil test would have told me I did not need to add the lime at that time.
JD: In your role as a master gardener, what has been the most enjoyable or rewarding experience for you so far?
DW: As a Master Gardener, one of the volunteer opportunities is at Extension’s Education Center to answer questions from phone calls and emails. We recently received an email from someone who said he was turning to us as his last hope. We were able to offer him three new possible solutions and he was very appreciative. Being there for someone reaching out is very important and satisfying.
Some of the other volunteer opportunities through the program include speaking at various functions, assisting schools, senior centers, and communities in developing gardens, and retrieving unharvested garden produce for schools and food pantries.
JD: You mentioned you had researched the Master Gardener Program before applying. Did you consider any of the other volunteer programs Extension offers?
DW: Yes. The Master Gardener Program is but one of the many volunteer opportunitiesoffered by UNH Cooperative Extension. If you are looking to work with others to maintain the health and productivity of New Hampshire’s natural resources, Extension has many programs looking for volunteers. And Extension provides the volunteers training, resources, and oversight to assure their success.
I was very impressed by the results of Extension’s recent volunteer impact study, which found that in 2015, over 4,700 volunteers trained through UNH Cooperative Extension spent 148,089 hours giving back to their communities in a wide variety of activities. The staff also collected testimonials from volunteers all across the state engaged in different settings, sharing information and knowledge, and making a difference in our communities.
Volunteers are an essential component to Extension programs and greatly expand the scope of our outreach across the state. Consider joining our team of dedicated volunteers and staff in 2016. You’ll learn something new, meet fantastic people, and contribute to making New Hampshire a better place for all of us to enjoy.
UNH Cooperative Extension’s Education Center answers questions about gardening and more at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 877-398-4769 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.