University of Illinois Extension horticulture programs inspire citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. Here are a few examples of how our programs impacted the residents of Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties in 2015.
We achieved media success using print, radio, television, and social media outlets to reach a broader and more diverse audience. I wrote 97 news releases last year, was interviewed on the radio seven times, and was a live panelist on the PBS television MidAmerican Gardner program. My social media reach grew as well, averaging over 26,000 hits per month.
We reached clientele with over a hundred presentations providing more than 5,000 people with a direct horticultural message. Of those, I directly taught 20% of the Unit's programs, with volunteers and others reaching the rest. My programs cover everything from Emerald Ash Borer to herbs to specialty gardens to creating an energy efficient landscape.
We grew a stronger Master Gardener program. Our 163 Master Gardener volunteers reached over 10,000 local residents during the over 10,000 hours they spent "Helping Others Learn to Grow" in 2015. We trained 27 new interns whom are already busy in their local communities.
We directly answered clientele questions using our Plant Detectives. These are a special group of Master Gardeners on the front line for answering horticulture questions that come into one of our four Extension offices. Volunteers and staff solved over 800 yard and garden questions in the offices using their plant detective skills. A new sunflower shaped business card helped promote this service at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, home shows, and more.
We educated about pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. Master Gardeners distributed pollinator information at earth day events, pollinator days at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, Wildlife Prairie Park's butterfly habitat, in schools, and more.
We helped produce food by teaching about backyard gardening and growing produce for food pantries. Master Gardener gift gardens in Green Valley, Morton, Washington, and Canton donated over 5,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in their communities. Other Master Gardeners teach youth how to raise and use food grown in school, YMCA, and 4-H gardens.
Links to my social media pages, blogs, news releases, a calendar of events, and so much more is found on our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fmpt.
Join us in 2016 in cyberspace or at a gardening event near you.