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Blackwelder column: Take survey to help Master Gardeners

SALISBURY — Members of the Rowan County Master Gardener Volunteer Association met earlier this week to discuss potential educational programs for 2012. The Master Gardener Volunteers are an active part of the educational programs of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.
In order to maintain Master Gardener status, volunteers are required to contribute by volunteering with educational efforts to North Carolina Cooperative Extension Horticulture program.
Most of the Master Gardener Volunteers donate time and information to Cooperative Extension with very little or no direct supervision with their programming efforts. Their efforts are clearly visible throughout the community. Master Gardener Volunteers had another banner year in 2011 with their educational efforts and 2012 looks even more promising.
These volunteers provide a number of programming efforts; youth involvement is a key component to the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Master Gardener Volunteers coordinated a 4-H Summer Fun program for 19 Cloverbud youth (youth ages 5-8), were an instrumental part of the Greenway Earth Day program for 255 elementary students and an elementary school gardening and nutritional day camp for 55 elementary school students.
Volunteers coordinated and conducted four separate educational programs for predominantly African-American youth at the city of Salisbury Recreation Department.
It is also important to note that the public continually receives information through educational booths, educational programs to civic clubs and organizations. Master Gardeners are in the process of developing an urban Pocket Garden Demonstration at the Agricultural Center. The Pocket Garden Project is designed to provide hands-on demonstrations for those with small urban settings. This is a long term project that will eventually provide information for a Sensory Garden, small fruits, raised beds, turf plots, herb garden, perennial plant study and much more.
With all these successes, demands for programs and information can be overwhelming. The slumping economy has placed new burdens on homeowners who want to take advantage of saving through planting their own gardens, smart shopping at farmers markets and saving on landscape maintenance, just to name a few concerns.
Input from the community at large is very much needed for Cooperative Extension to effectively plan for upcoming 2012 educational programs. The requests for information and services are great, so it is important to provide the most needed and warranted educational programs.
Your help is needed by completing a short on-line survey. This link http://harvest.cals.ncsu. edu/surveybuilder/form.cfm?testID=13736 has information that will be instrumental for planning Cooperative Extension educational programs in 2012. The link is also found on the Master Gardener Website www.rowanmastergardener.com, the Cooperative Extension website, www.rowanextension.com and Facebook.

Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970 Facebook or online at www.rowanextension.com

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