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Summer Volunteering

Changes to the mask protocol could see volunteers back in public spaces starting in July

Safety Updates

You may have heard that the University of Minnesota Extension is making updates to COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures. This is exciting news for volunteers looking forward to that in-person experience.

On May 28th, guidance from the Governor and University of Minnesota Extension’s leadership updated masking policy. According to the new guidance, volunteers who are fully vaccinated may choose to not wear a mask when representing University of Minnesota Extension as a Master Gardener volunteer at in-person events. However, if they are more comfortable wearing masks, they are welcome to do so. (Those volunteers who have not completed vaccination should continue to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.) Volunteers are not required or asked to report their vaccination status; we believe in the honor system. Please do what is right for you and the people around you.

Also starting on July 1, the exemption process for new projects will be discontinued. We will no longer need to submit a safety form and project description to get approval for volunteer projects and activities. Read the updated COVID-19 Safety FAQ for more information.

Impact on Volunteering Activities

This means that we may be able to resume many of our in-person activities starting July 1st provided that our partners/collaborating organizations AND our volunteers are interested. We are being very mindful of everyone involved and will do what is necessary to make sure everyone involved is comfortable.

We are just starting to investigate which in-person activities might start in July. Email Darren if you have questions about a specific in-person volunteer activities.

  • Farmers markets and local festivals may resume, though we want to be mindful of the scale of these events and the comfort of our volunteers. (Ex. We may skip the St Paul Market this summer.) We hope to have details (and sign-ups!) available soon.

  • The Speakers Bureau classes will continue to happen online through the end of winter 2022 (Feb/Mar depending on weather).

  • The Diagnostic clinic will remain closed this year and will be replaced with Garden Q&A Live. Likewise the Yard & Garden Hotline is still available for at-home volunteering.

  • Blooming St Paul is expected to proceed in July.

  • Habitat for Humanity is expected to proceed in September.

  • The Ramsey County Fair has been cancelled by the county so we won't be participating in that this year.

  • Demonstration gardens, like the ones at the Barn and Yard Waste Sites will continue, following the safety procedures outlined in their exemptions.

  • No-contact activities, like walk-by-learning home gardens are still eligible for volunteer hours, as are the Low-Contact options like donating produce to food shelves.

  • Monthly meetings will continue to happen online through the end of 2021 because we didn't renew our lease with the Oval based on expectations for 2021 earlier this year.

Volunteer Hours Requirements

At this time, all Active, Intern, and Emeritus-Active volunteers are expected to complete their required hours by the end of 2021 in order to remain in good standing next year. Please plan accordingly; there should be enough activities available for everyone to reach their minimum required volunteer hours.

  • Intern Status – 50 hours (min.)

  • Active Status – 25 hours (min.)

  • Emeritus-Active – 1 hour (min.)

We'll have more information about this update at the June monthly meeting.


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