by Russell Galanti. Teaching practical horticulture during COVID is no walk in the garden … or is it? Across our state, coordinators of CTAHR’s Master Gardener program are addressing the issue of developing an MG training curricula and schedule for 2021 – specifically for these unprecedented times when travel and in-person meetings are still difficult. The Master Gardener coordinators, which include Extension’s Dr. James Keach, Kalani Matsumura, Ty McDonald, Eric Demaria, and me, decided it was time to work together across the state to develop a unified training program, a historical achievement for the Hawaiʻi Master Gardeners. We’re confident we can make it work, because this same teamwork and coordination has already solved multiple problems this year related to developing the training program.
Lecturer travel was the first obstacle to overcome. By offering the class online, guest lecturers do not need to travel to every island individually to present. Offering the course as a statewide class also reduces the need for lecturers to present multiple times on the same subject.
Developing a synchronous program has allowed the Master Gardener coordinators to maximize their resources and offer an improved program through collaborative decision making. The statewide class allows all of the master gardener associations to interact with each other and create a sense of unity.
Most of the class remains online, with all participants meeting for online lectures, and splitting off into individual groups for hand-on activities. Some coordinators have decided to keep larger class sizes and remain completely socially distanced. This is the case for Oʻahu, Maui, and Kauaʻi. Hawaiʻi island is experimenting with reduced class size and the ability to still hold hands-on activities.
The details may differ, but one thing is for sure: statewide coordinators agree this has been an excellent team-building effort, and everyone appreciates working together to meet our goals. The training program began on February 12th – and so far, all participants are very happy with the statewide online format.
For more information on each master gardener program, you can visit the Master Gardener webpage. Each page contains contact information for the individual coordinators.
Photo Caption: A class limited to 10 students sits in the conference room of Komohana Research and Extension Center, ready to connect online with 85 other Master Gardener students from across the state.