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Darren's Digest – April 2022

April 13, 2022

The spring season is a busy time for the Ramsey Master Gardener Volunteer Program. An essential part of the Master Gardener volunteering is recording our hours and telling our story.


WHY we record volunteer hours

The hours that you enter are used to create reports for the federal government, University of Minnesota Extension, Ramsey County, Minnesota state legislature, and many other organizations. To quote the State website:

The Master Gardener Program is a program of the University of Minnesota Extension. Under federal law as a land grant university, the University of Minnesota carries the important responsibility for bringing University-based education to Minnesotans through our programs in outreach, teaching and research, and reporting these activities annually to the federal government is required. When you volunteer as a Master Gardener, you are representing the University and therefore, you play an important role in the report from Extension. It is also important for local and county groups to report on Master Gardener activities to their communities and local stakeholders about the important education and service each of you contribute.

Additionally, our program in Ramsey County is funding by Ramsey County's the Department of Environmental Health and that funding depends on each of us to record our volunteer service as Master Gardener volunteers. Without that, we lose access to our office at the Maplewood Extension office, the Diagnostic Clinic, the Milk Shed, and our paid program coordinator (me!).

In addition, we are do so many great things across Ramsey County; we should be sharing that with the our partners and community!

WHERE do you record your hours

The State Master Gardener Volunteer Program website has a lot of good information on reporting your volunteer and continuing education hours. Check out their page for tutorials on:

  • Hours FAQ

  • Logging In for the First Time; Watch the Zoom tutorial (recommended for interns)

  • Forgot your login info? Tutorial

  • Log Your Volunteer Hours

  • Log Continuing Education Hours

  • View Last Year's Hours

  • Core Area Descriptors

WHEN to record your hours

You are encouraged to submit your hours regularly. We strongly recommend that you enter your hour immediately after the volunteer activity but you can also do so on a monthly basis. (This might be advisable for long-running projects like an At-Home Pollinator Garden.)

It is NOT advisable to wait until the end of the year to report all of your hours. It's very hard to remember everything and it can take a lot of time to enter a whole year's worth of information at once.

We will send reminders throughout the year to report your hours. As a program we do run regular reports on overall volunteer hours. These reports helps us assess how we are doing as a program.

HOW to record your hours

Most of the volunteer opportunities posted on Sign Up Genius include information on how to log the hours for that activity. For example if you work at an Information Booth (e.g., Farmers’ Markets, Diagnostic Clinic, Ramsey County Fair, Minnesota State Fair, Home & Garden shows and other arranged locations) you would report your hours in the database under "C5", which stands for (C) Answer garden questions and (5) Information booth. In case a project page does not include the recommended way to record the hours served on the project, you can reference the Core Area Descriptors are listed on the State Master Gardener website.

WHO needs to record hours

All Active volunteers are expected to record their hours during the year. This includes Interns, Active, Active-Emeritus and Temporary Inactive volunteers. You can review the expected MINIMUM number of hours required based on your volunteer status in the chart below.

Volunteer Service Hours

Continuing Education Hours

Intern (First Year) Volunteers



Active Volunteers



Active-Emeritus Volunteers



​Temporary Inactive Volunteers



Inactive volunteers, like those on a Leave-of-Absence or with a Retired-Emeritus status are not required to enter either volunteer service or continuing education hours.

WHAT else we record

In addition to recording your volunteer service and continuing education hours, we also depend on project reporting and project stories. These stories are used in RCMG’s Annual Report, newsletters, on the RCMG website and incorporated into reporting to the state. Without these stories, it is impossible to convey the impact of the RCMG program.

Throughout the year you are reminded to take photos, share quotes and testimonials and document your volunteer experiences. Doing so helps us create an archive of our work and it's well worth saving. Check out the 2021 Volunteer Activities Photo Album, composed of images taken by your peer volunteers.


Enjoy your volunteering and keep up the great work!

Darren Lochner

RCMG Program Coordinator

COVID-19 Safety Update

With the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions we will be returning to more face-to-face volunteering. The main page of the State Master Gardener website ( has some good information and updates on Covid-19 as well as low-contact, work-from-home volunteer opportunities.


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