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Published on: Mar 3, 2016
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The Pen is Mightier than the Trowel: Master Gardeners as Factsheet Co-Authors Nicholas Polanin State Master Gardener Coordinator and Agriculture and Resource Management Agent (Associate Professor) Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension of Somerset County, 310 Milltown Rd, Bridgewater, NJ 08807Abstract The Factsheet is a long-recognized product of the objective research-basedknowledge that is synonymous with Cooperative Extension all across thecountry. Designed specifically for the consumer, demand for these has grownfar beyond simply having printed copies available at the county office.However, traditional authors such as Extension Specialists have been drawninto more in-depth research and ever-increasing on-campus teaching loads,limiting their time and energy to devote to these publications. County Agents,with a full load of programmatic expectations and regional if not statewideresponsibilities, recognize the need for current factsheets to augment theirprograms but yet have very similar time constraints. Recognizing theselimitations within its own policies and the need for newer consumer publications,Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension approved in 2009 the inclusion ofMaster Gardener volunteers as co-authors of Factsheets.Utilizing the county Garden Helpline clientele requests as their ‘needsassessment’, Master Gardeners were able to quickly identify which Factsheettopics were most in demand, in need of updating, and where gaps existed inwhat Cooperative Extension had to offer to the citizens and gardeners of NJ.Topics such as Indian Meal Moth, Bagworm, Bees and Wasps, Orchids,Dahlias, Native Plants, and Cedar-Apple Rust, all spearheaded and co-authored by Master Gardener volunteers, are just some of the newest additionsto the Rutgers NJAES Factsheet Library. An excellent off-season project thatcan be accomplished year round, this also offers Master Gardener volunteersample opportunity to utilize their research and writing skills in what could be anotherwise labor-intensive and short-lived volunteer effort.Tapping the Volunteer SpiritA 2010 survey (n = 436) of nearly 15% of all active Rutgers MasterGardeners indicated that they derived the most enjoyment from: 50.2% - Helping the public 29.6% - Learning new things In addition to those featured above, the following Factsheets were co-authored 9.2% - Meeting and working with other Master Gardeners by Rutgers Master Gardeners and published in over the past two years: 5.9% - Working with plants - African Violet Care; - Black Spot of Rose; - Bagworm; - Cannas; - Growing Dahlias; - Hollies for New Jersey; - Hydrangeas in the Garden;Master Gardener Writers Bureau - Keeping Geraniums Over the Winter; - Lilacs; - Rhododendrons and Azaleas: Injuries, Diseases, and Insect Damage; - Develops popular and Extension publications of gardening and horticultural - Petunias in the Gardeninterest with the goal of educating the general public and Garden Helplineclientele while increasing public awareness of Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Titles currently in the official RCE Factsheet publication review process include:Extension (RCE) and the Master Gardener Program, augmenting the Lawn and - Birch Leafminer; - Canada Thistle; - Outdoor Container Gardening with FlowersGarden FAQ website and Factsheet Resource online library. These are expected to be completed and published later this fall, joining the rest- Selects Master Gardeners with appropriate skills or experience to follow at the RCE Publications online library, http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/.current Extension Factsheet peer- and expert-review process as outlined in the2009 RCE policies and procedures. This effort, accomplished at the volunteer’s own pace during evening or weekend hours, has afforded Rutgers Master Gardeners a new, less labor-- Reviews and revises existing Factsheets and creates new ones as determined intensive venue for their annual volunteer requirement that utilizes theirthrough clientele requests and emerging issues in landscape management. inquisitive nature and willingness to help others. Rutgers Cooperative Extension- Meets the needs of RCE, the public, and the Master Gardener volunteer also benefits from new publications and a more fulfilled corps of volunteers.