Alabama Master Gardener Strategic Assessment Surveys
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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The purpose of this quantitative assessment is to evaluate the perspectives and experiences of regional extension agents, county extension coordinators, office administrators, and volunteers involved in the Alabama Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program. This study had three objectives: determining the EMG volunteer demographics and activity preferences, identifying EMG volunteer motivations for involvement in the program, and comparing the experiences and perspectives of the Alabama EMG personnel and volunteers. Results showed that the demographics of EMG volunteers are over 60 years old, female, white, affluent, and well-educated. Volunteers prefer problem-solving and hands-on related service activities. Volunteers are motivated by the Understanding function used in the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI). Intern volunteers are motivated by the Understanding and Values functions, and active volunteers are motivated by social and self-esteem functions. This indicates that relationships may play an essential role in volunteer retention. EMG Personnel and volunteers suggested recruitment, involvement, teamwork, retention, and more convenient meeting times as strategies to improve the program. When asked to measure a successful program, responses included community outreach, activities, recruitment, leadership, reputation, friendships, and learning. Overall, the findings in this study are encouraging; the Alabama EMG program positively impacts lives and communities through gardening.