Extension agents and their Master Gardener Extension (MGE) volunteers frequently receive questions from homeowners and others about septic systems. Many people do not know how their septic systems work, how to maintain them, or how to appropriately landscape the drainfield.
The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program, UGA Marine Extension Service, and the Center collaborated to create an advanced training for MGE volunteers. The training, “Cleanscapes: Landscapes, Septic Systems and You” earned participating volunteers a certificate that applies to both the Gold Star and the Silver Star advanced training recognitions.
The training focused on water in the landscape, the cleaning power of soils, location and maintenance of septic systems, and appropriate landscapes for the drainfields. The training included real-life examples of septic system impacts in Gwinnett County and coastal Georgia. It was delivered using a hybrid distance format with agents hosting the training in their counties. Lectures by specialists were delivered via webinar in the morning and agents directed the hands-on activities in the afternoon. Seventy-one volunteers were trained in 13 counties across the state. Pre- and post-training evaluation scores indicated an improvement in knowledge. The impact of the training was also assessed with a post-training on-line survey. Prior to training, 46.7% of the respondents did not feel confident responding to questions on septic systems or drainfields. After training 94% reported being likely or somewhat likely to talk or answer client questions about septic systems. Over seventy percent of the participants indicated they would recommend this training to other MGEVs.