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Extension Education

Mark Heitstuman
Extension Director & Interim State 4-H Program Director
Washington State University


Washington State University and University of Idaho Extension have collaborated for 18 years to deliver regional Master Gardener (MG) Training in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. Surrounding counties do not have the staff resources to offer MG training, so residents in those counties are invited to participate in our regional training as well.

The two-hour one-way commute was a barrier for Whitman County residents interested in becoming certified WSU volunteers. Walla Walla County certified Master Gardeners were interested in participating in the regional training to meet their Continuing Education Requirements.

Planning Team members met with WSU Extension IT to explore possible technologies to connect the three physical sites via technology. The recommendation was to purchase a Meeting Owl Pro, which integrates a 360-degree camera, microphone and speaker into one portable unit. The Meeting Owl also works well with Zoom, the cloud-based video conference service used to deliver the classes to the remote locations. With this tool in place, the 2020 classes commenced like any normal year on January 28th. When the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, in-person meetings ceased. After cancelling the March 17th class, classes pivoted to 100% virtual delivery via Zoom for the 5 remaining trainings.

While many MG trainings were cancelled, this program was able to flourish as we already had technology in place to create a successful learning environment for participants. This presentation will showcase what we learned from “pivoting” from a hybrid to a totally virtual model during a pandemic.

Following the trainings, a Qualtrics evaluation was sent to all participants. Seventeen of 48 participants responded to the survey (35% response rate).  82% of the respondents (N=14) indicated that their knowledge of gardening increased either a lot or very much.  59% (N=10) said their knowledge of environmental stewardship increased a lot/very much. 65%% of respondents (N=11) said they were confident in finding answers to most gardening questions. Evaluation comments included “I would recommend a Zoom component even after the pandemic ends”.  And “I immediately started using plant identification resources and information on native plants to increase the use of these in my garden”.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: J. Schmidt, M. Heitstuman, K. Tifft, M. Busch
  1. Schmidt, J. Extension Director, Washington State University Whitman County Extension, Washington, 99111
  2. Heitstuman, M. Extension Director, Washington State University Asotin/Garfield County Extension, Washington, 99402
  3. Tifft, K. Extension Director, University of Idaho Nez Perce County Extension, Idaho, 83501
  4. Busch, M. Extension Coordinator, University of Idaho Nez Perce County Extension, Idaho, 83501