Dakota County Master Gardeners have weathered change wellGroup has made smooth transition to an all volunteer organization
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
A little more than a year ago the Dakota County Master Gardeners lost their University of Minnesota Extension coordinator due to funding cuts. The cuts meant Barbara Stendahl lost her job and that the Dakota County Master Gardeners would be run completely by volunteers.
Soon after they learned of the pending changes to their program, the master gardeners put together a leadership team and created a plan to go forward.
While the transition has had its bumps, chair Julie Harris said the group has weathered the change well.
“We have a group that’s really engaged and great membership,” said Harris.
The Dakota County Master Gardeners includes roughly 130 members. Celia Scheel said people in the group have stepped up to take on the work that used to be done by Stendahl, including paperwork, communications and planning.
“We miss having someone to handle the administration,” said Scheel.
From the outside it’s hard to tell there have been changes, though. The group has continued much of its programming including its popular Let’s get Growing expo held in the spring and its Tuesday In the Garden series of classes.
Many of their activities, including Tuesday in the Garden, are held at the Master Gardener Education and Display Garden located at 1605 W. 160th St. The garden includes a series of smaller gardens including flower, fruit and vegetable. The master gardeners use the gardens to conduct trials and to provide education to the public.
Scheel said they have tried to build on their Tuesday night events so people come to expect something to be going on at the gardens on Tuesday.
As they move forward, Harris said the group is determined to continue offering gardening education and strives to do it in a way that reaches people. As part of those efforts the group started a blog called Garden Talk at gardentalk.areavoices.com.
Other efforts include new events. Several weeks ago the master gardeners hosted Tea and Crumpets in the Garden. Master gardeners also have held plant health diagnostic clinics to help identify plant diseases and insects. Harris said the diagnostic events have gone over well. The next clinic will be held July 10 at the research garden.
On July 31 the group will host Super Tuesday in the Garden. The event will provide a wide arrangement of education opportunities for everyone in the family. In past years the Dakota County Master Gardeners have provided educational outreach as part of the UMore Open House put on by the University of Minnesota. However, the university will not hold the event this year. The Super Tuesday event will be free and open to the public.
Overall, both women said they think the transition has gone well. They say the group continues to meets its mission to teach people in the community about horticulture.
“I am so pleased with the membership. People understood what needed to be done and have done it,” said Scheel.
For more information about the Dakota County Master Gardener program visit their website at blog.lib.umn.edu/mgweb/dakota.