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Ask-A-Master-Gardener Event Best Practices

4/10/2024

AAMG Tables are common requests from community groups and are a regular volunteer activity all year-round

Ask-A-Master-Gardener Tables

We often receive requests for RCMG to appear at community events during the growing season. These are called an Ask-A-Master-Gardener (AAMG) or information table. These volunteer activities often provide Master Gardener volunteers an opportunity to personally connect and share your knowledge with area residents. The State Master Gardener Program has developed some helpful resources to assist you with setting up an Ask-A-Master-Gardener/information table at community events.


When you are talking with the participants, make sure to clarify their questions and understand their goals, even if you feel like you know an answer to a question. The new Inclusive Volunteering and Community Engagement modules in the 2024 Core Course have some great suggestions on how to really understand a participant's question. We strongly encourage everyone to review these modules. They will also help you prepare for the gardening and event season that is upon us.


Have fun with these experiences! Share your passion and interest in gardening.


AAMG Best Practices

Here are some other best practices to keep in mind while volunteering at community events.


  • Do your homework prior to the event/activity.  Review the SignUp Genius page to make sure you are prepared. Are there themes or topics that you should brush up on? Where is the event located? Are there demonstration gardens or garden resources available in the area?

  • Get to know the RCMG resources.  RCMG provides education kits and other useful tools, props, and items to volunteers for these activities. Check the SignUp Genius page for recommendation on what to bring and contact Darren to schedule a pick-up. Remember to bring things back within 3-5 business days so they are available for other volunteers.

  • W ear your name badge and maroon gear.   Representation, branding and identification with the U of MN Extension and Master Gardener program are important. It helps participants know who we are and that helps them trust the information we share.

  • SMILE and engage the event participants. Start a conversation. Invite them to come talk with you and ask them questions and share resources. Consider bringing props, photos or items to an event to help start a conversation or attract individuals to the table. Think about ways to connect with individuals of all ages.

  • Direct participants to good sources of information. As always, do your best to point residents in the right direction to get additional information. There are great horticulture resources available on Extension's Yard and Garden website and the related Yard and Garden news, but also reliable information through other University websites and government agencies like BWSR, watershed districts, and the DNR. Try doing an online search on your smartphone or tablet with the resident. For tips on imroving the quality of your search results, check out our Tips and Tricks for Search.

  • Share your experiences with us!  Take photos. Write a story about the event and include a list of questions that were asked, what were some highlights, favorite moments and what you (or another volunteer at a similar event) might do differently if you were to participate in this volunteer activity again. We often hear about how valuable it is from other RCMG volunteers and we try to include them in newsletters when we get them. Consider sharing your stories. We all learn better, together.


Other Resources For AAMG Events

For Volunteers at Events

Let's Talk Plants Toolkit for answering questions

Barn Access Information (to get handouts, signs, etc from RCMG)

To Share with Residents

Extension Yard & Garden website

Extension Ask-A-Master-Gardener Online Form (for MN questions)

Cooperative Extension Ask Extension (knowledge repository and online question form for nation-wide questions)


RCMG-Specific Information

Contact RCMG Form (to request RCMG attendance at their event)

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