Recognizing the increasing need for urban tree care expertise and the important role that Master Gardener Extension (MGE) volunteers play in communicating with the public, the Urban Forestry Issue Team developed an educational module for county Extension agents to use for training a Master Gardener in urban and community tree care.
With funding from the National Urban and Community Forest Advisory Council, a team of UGA agents trained 89 Extension agents in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The goals of the program were to: train agents in urban tree care, provide them with a complete course for MGE volunteers, and introduce them to local efforts which foster green infrastructure and sustainable community forests. Agents received eight reference books, training CDs, presentations, and handouts. They were also introduced to local green infrastructure initiatives.
Follow-up surveys demonstrated the effectiveness of the training. It empowered agents with the knowledge, information, and resources they needed to respond to daily requests about urban trees and train MGE volunteers.
Within twelve months of the training workshop, the agents had trained 966 MGE volunteers with the materials they had received in the workshop. Agents also reported using the materials and information from the workshop to train arborists, landscape contractors, and elementary school students. The Master Gardener volunteers were also using their knowledge in a broad range of activities for Cooperative Extension.