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Methods to Train Master Gardeners to Manage Telephone Resource Lines Edwin M. Lentz, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, OSU Extension-Hancock County, 7868 CR 140, Findlay OH 45840Abstract . . . . .Master Gardener candidates are expected to have Objective . . . . . . .the ability to address consumer horticulture To determine the most effective educational method(s) to prepare new Master Gardener volunteers toquestions after completing their training program. comfortably and confidently manage calls for the horticulture telephone Resource Line.New Master Gardeners were often uncomfortablewith this responsibility, especially operating thecommunity Resource Line. To address this problem, Introduction . . . Outcome of Program . . . . .different teaching methods were created and Responding to consumer horticulture questions is one of All methods prepared new Master Gardeners to comfortably and confidently manage the Resource Lineevaluated during the Master Gardener training. the main functions of the Seneca County Master Gardener Survey results showed that the presence of an experienced Master Gardener during the first timesThese methods included teaching a whole modular program. The program successfully recruited and trained managing the Resource Line was the most effective training method followed closely by the availabilityunit on managing the Resource Line, hands-on new Master Gardeners, but these new members were of the Coordinatortraining with an experienced Master Gardener, often reluctant to volunteer for the telephone Resource Real world questions and the training unit devoted to the Resource Line were important, but not asphysical availability of the Extension Educator for Line. The traditional education training program provided effective . . . . . most likely because they occurred prior to the seasonal operation of the Resource Lineassistance while operating the Resource Line, and adequate technical information to answer horticulture to the publicreal experience questions from the Resource Line questions but not the tools to confidently manage and 100% of the new Master Gardener class said they wouldafter completing each Master Gardener subject unit. respond to telephone calls and requests from the public. most likely volunteer to manage the telephoneA class of Master Gardener Interns participated in Resource Line in the futurethese different methods. Each intern completed an Educational Methods . . . . .evaluation after becoming a Master Gardener to During the regular program to train new Master Gardeners, the following methods were implemented:measure which training method gave them the most Real world questions – after each education unit, examples were provided of actual communityconfidence to answer questions while managing the requests that focused on that session’s topicResource Line. Even though each method had value, Resource Line unit -- a unit was developed as part of the educational program that taughtpairing with an experienced Master Gardener and how to manage the telephone Resource Line, i.e., listening, responding, providinghaving the Extension Educator available were the research-based information, documenting requests, and follow-upmost useful in giving interns confidence. The Presence of an experienced Master Gardener - a Master Gardener assisted the first fewevaluations also showed that 100% of the new times that an Intern managed the Resource LineMaster Gardeners plan to volunteer for the Resource Availability of Master Gardener Coordinator – Coordinator was on-call at any time toLine the following year. assist with the Resource Line Survey Response to Educational Methods Real World Questions 2011 Training Implementation Timeline 8.0 7.0 JAN FEB-MAR • 16 participants enrolled in new Master Gardener Class • All-day session that covered one - two subject modules, one day per week Resource Line Unit • Brief review of previous module given at the beginning of each new module, Real World Questions from the Resource Line were incorporated at this time • Last educational module included a unit on managing the Resource Line • All 16 participants completed required 50 hours of horticulture education 8.3 7.4 Presence of Master Gardener APR-SEP • Resource Line operational to respond to horticultural requests from the community • Interns selected times to manage the Resource Line during these months • Master Gardeners assisted the first few times Interns operated the Resource Line • Coordinator periodically visited Resource Line Room to encourage Interns and to see if there Coordinator Availability were any concerns or tough questions • Coordinator regularly reminded interns that he was available via phone, e-mail, or office visits Average score from 1-10 to assist with questions received on the Resource Line OCT • Resource Line closed for the season 1–2 3–4 5-6 7-8 9-10 • Coordinator met with interns to get feedback about their Resource Line experience • Survey given to evaluate Resource Line training methods implemented the past six monthsStrongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree DEC • 15 of the original 16 participants become Master Gardeners (completed 50 service hours)