Maine Master Gardener Volunteer Newsletter – December 2023

In this issue…

Program Updates

It’s been awhile since our last newsletter and we’ve been busy! We wanted to update you about some of the projects our team has been working on:

  • Coming in January: Active and enrolled MGVs will be able to access our new online MGV training at a discounted rate of 75% off the course fee. The course fee helps cover our administrative costs for running the program. Since the program has already started, interested MGVs will have access to all the online content, including previously recorded Q&A sessions and the live sessions still on the schedule. Limited technical assistance will be provided and assignments and quizzes will be optional for those who register for the online course. Keep an eye out in the new year for more information about how to register!
  • New project enrollment: The new project enrollment process is the first in a series of efforts to move towards a comprehensive volunteer management system. Going forward, approved MGV projects will be required to re-enroll their project, just like we do for volunteers, and report impacts in the fall of each year. This process will allow project leaders to update their contact info, let us know about project needs, report impacts (more to come on this), complete required sign-offs, and update project description to help recruit volunteers. If you are a project leader, you should have received an email about enrolling your project for next year and reporting your impacts from this year. Our goal is to have an online portal where volunteers can log in and check their volunteer hours and status by mid – February of 2024.
  • New volunteer enrollment: Our annual volunteer enrollment will begin in mid-February of 2024 and will involve volunteers logging into the new portal, renewing their enrollment, and updating their information on the enrollment form. The enrollment form will look similar to years past with some new features and questions. For example, you’ll be able to select the approved MGV projects where you plan on spending your volunteer time in 2024. 

Don’t worry as we shift to these new systems, we’ll provide instructions and video tutorials for how to use them!

Wishing you well,

Pamela Hargest and Becca Long

Co-chairs, UMaine Extension Home Horticulture Team

2023 Horticulture Keynote

Did you miss our 2023 Horticulture Keynote: History, Health Disparities, and Action: A Wabanaki Perspective on foodways in so-called Maine?, presented by Anthony Sutton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and Food Systems at the University of Maine and Faculty Fellow at the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions.

We wanted to share the recording of this impactful presentation with all our MGVs:  webinar recording here.

Cuetlaxochitl for the Holidays

Cuetlaxochitl (pronounced kwet-la-sho-shel) may not be a familiar name but it’s surely a familiar plant; known in the United States most commonly as the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). The name poinsettia comes from the controversial U.S. diplomat who is credited with bringing the plant to the U.S. This name represents an unfortunate erasure of its history as a cultivated and culturally significant plant in Mexico. Because of this, some are moving to using cuetlaxochitl in place of poinsettia as the common name. Read more about the history of the ubiquitous holiday plant:

Read more about decolonizing plant names: 

Report your MGV Hours and MHH Donations

Did you know that reporting your volunteer hours, Maine Harvest for Hunger Donations and impacts are essential for us to demonstrate the value of the Master Gardener Volunteers Program to our funders? Long ago you may remember learning that UMaine Extension is funded through our local (county), state, and federal government. The information you share in your volunteer hours report and survey helps create a meaningful story about the impact and importance of the program. 

Reporting takes only a few minutes and is critical to the success and continued support of the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Please know that reporting your hours is not boastful or trivial. Data about time invested in these activities and the number of people reached are important measures of the worth of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Funding is dependent on our ability to show the impact of our volunteers and their efforts.

Thank you to everyone who has been reporting their hours so far this year. If you haven’t reported your hours, please do so here: Reporting Master Gardener Volunteer Hours (bookmark this page!). MGVs have until the end of the year (December 31, 2023) to complete their annual requirement of 20 hours or 40 hours if you are currently working on your certification. If you still need to submit your produce donations for the 2023 season, please submit those using our Maine Harvest for Hunger Reporting Form.

Volunteer Opportunity: Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification Committee

Are you a big fan of Pollinators?  The Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification Committee wants to have every Maine county represented on its certification team. The committee meets about every 6 weeks for 1-2 hours to review applications and discuss new research. Before each meeting, there is an hour or two of “homework” reviewing all the applications that have come in. Generally speaking, it ends up being about 10 meetings a year, and with the “homework,” it is about a 40-hour commitment for the year, with the busiest time being late summer and early fall..

There will be opportunities to be trained to educate the public on the topics of Pollinators, Native Plants, and Conservation efforts to make a garden Pollinator-Friendly.  We meet via Zoom with our New Hampshire colleagues so location is not an issue, familiarity with Google Drive is a plus but there will be training.  Want to know more?  Contact your coordinator for more details or Lynne Holland ( or David Lowe (

Maine Master Gardener Volunteers Facebook Group

Do you have gardening questions you’d like to ask fellow volunteers? Or perhaps you are organizing an event or work day you’d like to share? 

Join the Maine Master Gardener Volunteers Facebook Group! This is a private group only open to Maine Master Gardener Volunteers and UMaine Extension Staff. We welcome you to ask gardening questions, share information and opportunities, and get to know each other. As always, remember that the goal of the MGV program is to share reliable, research-based information when providing gardening advice to fellow volunteers and neighbors.

You may join the group by searching ‘Maine Master Gardener Volunteers’ or selecting THIS LINK.

Upcoming Events and Programs