Gina Anderson

Gina Anderson, Purdue Extension Educator, Floyd County

While 2020 was not the year we expected it to be, it has still been filled with some really positive things that are worth remembering and celebrating.

In January, we started two new Master Gardener intern classes that had a total of 36 people. And while we didn’t get all of the class sessions in before COVID-19 hit, the participants were more than willing to switch to a virtual format to finish the sessions. In total, these interns have completed 685.5 volunteer hours since starting their class in January. This amounts to a value of $18,645.60 of service to the community. Some of these volunteer hours came from helping the certified Master Gardeners switch the Youth Master Gardener beds to vegetable gardens for the community for 2020. Between the Youth Master Gardener beds at the Georgetown Optimist Club and the vegetable garden beds at the Clark County Fairgrounds, 2,400 pounds of produce was raised and given to local food banks between Clark and Floyd counties. That is really something to celebrate and for which to be thankful.

In March, the second class of Beekeeping A-Z wrapped up and a new class started at the end of April. What we have found out with the new class is there are a lot of things that can be taught easily online; unfortunately not all beekeeping topics can be taught online. But that is OK. We have figured out a way to make it work. Even with the late frost we had in May, our hives remained strong and we were able to harvest about 80 pounds of honey from the hives.

Switching Master Gardeners and Beekeeping classes to an online format was just the tip of the iceberg in figuring out how to teach people in 2020. I’m so used to creating hands-on activities that I really had to change my mindset to make online learning fun and engaging.

I also had to figure out how to make live broadcasts and videos. I got the chance to really develop these skills when Gina Brown, with the non-profit Let Us Learn, asked me about helping teach families about gardening. Her organization was able to give away 24 raised garden beds with plants to some of the youth in the New Albany-Floyd County school system. Many of these families had never gardened before, so Gina Brown and I came up with a way to teach the families through a series called Two Gina’s in the Garden, which is housed on the Let Us Learn Facebook page. These weekly live feeds/videos covered current garden issues and we were able to address some of the questions the families had about gardening. Even though sometimes creating the live feeds/videos was challenging, it was totally worth it to see the smiles on the faces of the youth as they started harvesting the vegetables out of their garden.

Once I honed my video creating skills, it was time to figure out what a virtual Pollinator Day would look like. With the help of many volunteers and some friends from around the country, we were able to create a lot of cool videos that corresponded with our youth activities, one of them being Pollinator Quest. These videos cover every type of pollinator that we have, and even some we don’t. Pollinator Quest, along with several hands-on activities, were included in Pollinator Day youth activity bags, which were given away to youth up to age 12. This year we gave away almost 500 youth activity bags! Pollinator Day 2020 wouldn’t be complete without our lectures. With the help of a very tech savvy Master Gardener, we were able to stream the Pollinator Day webinars live. If you missed them, you can go back and find them at https://www.sunnysidemg.org/pdscheduleofevents.

As you can see there were a lot of good things in 2020 that should be celebrated! I look forward to seeing what opportunities lie ahead in 2021.

If you have any questions about plants, natural resources, or just about anything else, email Gina Anderson at gmanders@purdue.edu or call the Purdue Extension Office of Floyd County at 812-948-5470.

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