Katelyn Brinkerhoff, the new state coordinator for University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s Master Gardeners of Nevada, is bringing plant-growing education and training online to ensure consistency and broader accessibility for the program.
As state coordinator, Brinkerhoff is providing leadership for the Master Gardener Program across Nevada by creating statewide courses for all counties. One of her main goals is to move the mandatory training for Master Gardeners online, so that all new Master Gardener volunteers have access to the same quality training materials and information.
“I’m hoping to increase the awareness of what the Master Gardener Program is and what Master Gardeners are doing in their communities,” Brinkerhoff said. “With making it more of a statewide effort, we can bring more power to the program as a whole, and share with others the amazing efforts of the volunteers.”
In order to become a certified Master Gardener, volunteers must go through at least 50 hours of instruction. Extension staff, specialists and local gardening professionals teach a series of classes to train volunteers in research-based home horticulture practices. Afterwards, Master Gardeners volunteer at least 50 hours a year wherever their knowledge and skills best fit community needs.
As volunteers, their goal is to provide free, research-based horticulture information to their communities. They contribute volunteer hours through a variety of projects, including answering telephone and email questions, staffing booths at events, conducting educational presentations, serving as docents at area demonstration gardens, and consulting at school and community gardens. Master Gardeners also provide plant diagnostic services and can help identify plants and insects.
Although the online Master Gardener training will be the same across the state, this new system will give local coordinators more time to develop county-specific education and activities, as well as focus energy on sharing the benefits of the program with the community.
“Extension is excited to have Katelyn leading Nevada’s Master Gardener Program,” Holly Gatzke, Extension northern area director, said. “Her experience will enable us to expand and teach more people in Nevada on plant growing for food, beauty and environmental improvements.”
Brinkerhoff previously worked for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach as a horticulture educator. She worked with Master Gardeners on creating sustainable projects and coordinated yearly trainings and continuing education, which moved online the last two years. After working closely with the state coordinator in Iowa, she decided to apply her knowledge and skills on a statewide level.
Brinkerhoff’s long-term goal is to grow the volunteer program here in Nevada, while focusing on projects such as a coordinator’s guide and a volunteer handbook and management system to track data and impact more accurately.