Our Landscape, Our Stream, Our Watershed: A Multi-State Advanced Master Gardener Program Addresses Urban Water Issues

From drought to floods urban Extension agents are on the front line dealing with urban water issues. Ag agents frequently use Master Gardener Extension (MGE) volunteers because they are uniquely positioned to deliver water quality information and resources to homeowners. Developing the knowledge base of these volunteers will strengthen the delivery of water quality and quantity messages to homeowners.

Teams of MGE coordinators, agents and specialists from Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina met to pool their resources. The result was an advanced training for MGE volunteers on urban water issues. The goal of this training was to define the landscape’s impact on water in the watershed and encourage MGE volunteers to think beyond the yard, to local streams, and ultimately, to the watershed.

The team developed a three-day training, sharing expertise across state lines. The training covered the seven steps of a waterSmart landscape design and the conversion of a high water use landscape to a low water use landscape. Agents and volunteers learned about pollution sources, infiltration and rain harvesting. Everyone enjoyed learning about stream health.

Two hundred ninety-three volunteers were trained in 21 locations throughout four states. Local agents hosted the morning webinars and selected hands-on activities for the afternoon that complimented their local programs. The groups designed rain gardens, did WaterSmart landscape retrofits, did irrigation audits, made rain barrels, and assessed stream health. Participants have reported that an estimated 12,021 homeowners have benefited from this training. Follow up surveys clearly demonstrated the project had strengthened the delivery of water quality and quantity messages to homeowners.

Archived webinars, activities, presentations, and evaluations are available on-line.

For more information contact ebauske@uga.edu.