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York County Master Gardener Volunteer Program - Master Gardener Volunteer Hours Policy

Master Gardener Volunteer Hours Policy

The purpose of this policy is to clearly define for Master Gardener Volunteers and University of Maine Cooperative Extension staff what constitutes volunteer hours. This policy includes both Master Gardener Volunteers in training who are working towards their initial certification requirement of 40 hours of volunteer time, and certified Master Gardener Volunteers who are continuing in “active status” and who are required to volunteer 20 hours each year they remain active.

There are three categories of volunteer hours in the Master Gardener Program; all are of equal importance in meeting our Master Gardener Plan of Work goals and improving the lives of Maine people. We refer to these hours as Administrative, Community and Education.

Administrative volunteer hours include time conducting leadership and/or organizational activities of Master Gardener Volunteer programs and projects. Administrative time would include time spent planning and conducting meetings, developing communications, emails and letters, conducting surveys, entering data and other tasks involved in managing a Master Gardener project or supporting the state Home Horticulture Plan of Work. For example a volunteer may serve as a local project coordinator for Maine Harvest for Hunger in a particular county.

Community hours are contributed while working on approved Master Gardener community projects that are non-educational but which are in support of our Extension Master Gardener program mission. Such volunteer hours include time conducting approved community beautification projects, gleaning fields or growing food for Maine Harvest for Hunger, working to assist people who for reasons of age or physical disability need a helping hand to continue their passion for gardening in a program such as Garden Angel.

Education hours are contributed while teaching or preparing Master Gardener or Extension educational programs, answering horticulture questions, developing educational materials, demonstration gardens, displays and resources, and writing newsletter articles or publications.

All Master Gardener Volunteer hours need to be conducted in conjunction with programs and projects which meet the approval of the local Master Gardener Volunteer program coordinator. Weight may be placed on certain types of hour categories if needed. County Master Gardener coordinators may require participation in particular projects.

The honor system is used to turn in valid hours using Master Gardener Volunteer program report forms available through the county programs. They are subject to review and approval by the UMaine Extension local Master Gardener program coordinator.

Travel to and from volunteer Master Gardner Volunteer Programs: Travel time may be reported on your Volunteer Report for volunteer hours. Time spent traveling while conducting Master Gardner Volunteer programs may be included in your volunteer hours contributed. We encourage volunteers to track mileage traveled as a University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer as you may claim that as a tax deduction. Mileage and time spent traveling to and participating in educational programs for your ongoing learning does not constitute volunteer hours.

New First Year Master Gardener Trainees Working Towards Certification

As a new- first year Master Gardener Volunteer trainee working towards certification, at least 30 of your required 40 hours are to be within one or more of the established projects outlined in the Master Gardener Project List (Kids Can Grow, Maine Harvest for Hunger, Laudholm, Plant Sale and Raffle, Garden Angel, Caring Unlimited,  Workshops, Yardscaping, Portland Flower Show, County Courthouse proposed Garden)   The remaining 10 hours in your first year can be in a community project of your choice, as long as it is an approved project.   Any MGV can propose a project for approval. Project Approval Form

Continuing Active Master Gardener Volunteers

As a continuing Master Gardener Volunteer, you are required to volunteer 20 hours per year to maintain your active status. For your 20 hours, you might like to create your own community project and request approval. Project Approval Form.

Projects are approved based on their educational aspect, value to the community (without simply allowing you to become an organization’s unpaid gardener), and adherence to the policies of the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program.

Calculating Master Gardener Hours

MG volunteers may consider reporting hours trivial, but the importance of this is critical to the success and continued support of the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Quantifying time invested in these activities and the number of people reached through our activities are important measures that demonstrate the worth of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Potential funding is more easily attained when significant efforts and impact can be proven. Also, the ability to successfully compete for funding is critical to our financial survival. Master Gardener Volunteers should be made aware of the value in reporting their activities and time spent in service.

Valid Master Gardener Hours

  • Any volunteer time accepted or approved by the local MG coordinator (Extension staff in charge of the local program) counts as volunteer hours. UMaine Extension program coordinators may request some of the volunteer’s time be spent on a specific project or type of volunteer project.
  • Attendance at educational programs where Master Gardener Volunteers are receiving further training does not count as volunteer hours.
  • Travel time to and from a volunteer activity counts toward volunteer hours.
  • An example of time spent on activities which are typically NOT approved by the local Master Gardener coordinator includes setting up chairs at a local garden club meeting. However, if you were teaching a gardening seminar to the local garden club and are clearly doing such in your role as University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener then the time would be approved by the local Master Gardener coordinator.

Any questions regarding what constitutes volunteer time should be directed to the local Master Gardener Program coordinator.

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