A Virginia Cooperative Extension – Master Gardener (VCE-MG) is an individual who acts on behalf of VCE as a volunteer educator within his or her community after receiving specialized training in environmental horticulture through cooperative programming with VCE. Master Gardeners are trained to provide environmental education that meets SOL’s, assist schools in establishing and maintaining schoolyard gardens, counsel homeowners about proper lawn care, and conduct environmental outreach to the general community.
For 2009, we reported more than 334,000 volunteer hours statewide (up from 269,000 hours in 2008) and more than 577,000 contacts (up from 547,000 in 2008). The economic value of that volunteer service exceeds $6.7 million dollars.
Master Gardeners are only one aspect of the Cooperative Extension Programs in Fairfax County. Extension programs have had a significant impact in our community and schools by providing:
SOL supported Environmental Education for community schools
Childhood Obesity Prevention programs (Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids)
Chronic Disease Prevention Education programs (Small Steps to Health and Wealth)
Financial Management Counseling
Nutrition Education for limited resource adults and families
Urban Landscaping Education to improve the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
4-H provided Character Counts Youth Leadership training in after school programs in Portsmouth and across the state.
In 2009, Extension Programs reached more than 2.2 million Virginians across the state and generated more than $75.8 million dollars to support research, which provided the ability to address critical needs of the Commonwealth.
Unfortunately, the Budget Bill before the Virginia legislature contains drastic cuts for VCE including the closure of many offices and combining others.
The Bill will eliminate Cooperative Extension completely in Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and Prince William and four other counties. Emails to legislators are needed to save these programs. If the Bill passes, Cooperative Extension jobs will be eliminated in Northern Virginia. Master Gardener programs, 4-ill also be eliminated. (Info http://leg1.state.va.us/101/bud/SubCom/HB30Committee.PDF ; p77, item 219 #2h).
To let our legislators know how important these programs are to the community call or email them. You can find your legislator here: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main
Thank you in advance for your help, so that I can continue to work with Brooksfield as a Master Gardener volunteer.