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The State of the Speakers’ Bureau Beginning 2023

By Beet 2023 03 March

After Covid and being locked out of the OSU campus and the shutdown of most other places for many months, the JCMGA Speakers’ Bureau is working to rebuild.  We lost several speakers for various reasons and decided that they needed to step back. We greatly appreciate their past service, excellent performance, and support. If at some point they ever feel like they would like to return, they would be warmly welcomed.

I think the saddest thing about the loss of these speakers is that in some cases the JCMGA lost the knowledge that these individuals possess. We did not have a format where we captured their presentations.  I have talked to a couple who left for health reasons, and we have tried to figure out a way to get their knowledge transferred to someone else who might want to take up where they left off. But so far, we have not found anyone who might want to do that or a way to get this information back. If we have someone who would want to work with them to make a presentation and learn while doing it, please let me know. It would accomplish a couple of organizational goals by helping to revitalize the JCMGA Speakers’ Bureau, provide a learning experience and gaining knowledge.  The participating individual would accumulate recertification hours for time spent on this project. This effort would help to regain lost knowledge and build the JCMGA Speakers’ Bureau offerings. More offerings increase the ability of the JCMGA to accomplish our mission of education out in the community. I am not suggesting it would be an easy task but a very rewarding one.

Once Covid released its grip on us, we had 4-veteran speakers (very hardy souls and dedicated to JCMGA’s Mission) who soldered on and kept the JCMGA Speakers’ Bureau on life support. We are so grateful for their effort to keep the Speakers’ Bureau alive and moving forward. They know who they are, and I thank them with all my heart. We have also had at least four more who have come back and have expanded our offerings by two or three new presentations each. Our presentation inventory is expanding. We still have several gaps in our offering, but slowly we are building back and hoping to add more presentations during 2023 by reaching out to other organizations who might be interested in the programming we have to offer. Any Ideas that you have about groups who might be interested in what we do please let me know.

Also, our JCMGA Speakers’ Bureau webpage is grossly out of date and the plan to update it is in the works for this winter.  Ronnie Burge and I have reviewed it and will make a final plan when we can go over our plan later this winter.

The JCMGA Speakers’ Bureau did help to get the word out in 2022 and continue JCMGA’s mission of educating. We had 9 presentations, reestablished relationships with the Medford Library with booked three- series for the 2023 winter.  A fall series as well as a winter series for 2023 are in the works.  In addition to the Medford Library we booked three presentations with Jacksonville Garden Club, from which we received a wonderful letter about Susan’s excellent presentations on soils.  I hope to start inviting regional garden clubs to visit our beautiful Demonstration Gardens at the Extension in late Spring through early fall this year. More information will be forthcoming in future Beet Articles on this outreach effort.

The good news is we just added another Speaker in the last couple of weeks.  I am grateful to Bonni Engelhardt who has agreed to be one of our speakers and will put us in her very busy schedule as time permits.  She brings some excellent expertise with a list of presentations what will expand our offerings. She is an excellent presenter, enthusiastic about her subject and makes the time spent with her fun and well as informative.  I welcome Bonni and look forward to working with her.

Speakers Bureau — Our Master Gardener Speakers Out In the Community

By Beet 2023 02 February

Our public library invited JCMGA to present a “winter series” of three gardening classes on Zoom. First up was one on “Choosing Seeds for Spring Planting” presented by Ronnie Budge on January 21. Her PowerPoint slides had pictures of seed packets and pages from seed catalogs, and she explained what to look for when deciding which varieties to order. She advised participants to seek out JCMGA’s Garden Guide for more information. The presentation was recorded and will be on the library’s YouTube channel. We’ll share the link with you as soon as we get it.

The always fun and knowledgeable John Kobal provided a “Worm Composting” hands-on demonstration at the Applegate Library on January 28. He reported that he had a good time and that it went well with many expressions of appreciation at the end.  One of the happy 8 attendees got to take home some red wigglers.

The branch supervisor Christine Grubbs indicated that she would like to have a monthly series of gardening talks at her library. John recommended his Year Around Gardening for July and August.  I look forward to talking to Christine.

Presenting programs at our public library, whether via Zoom or “live,” is truly a “win-win” opportunity since the library reaches a new-to-us audience with their publicity.

I will start posting our speaker engagements monthly in the Garden Beet.  They will appear on the JCMGA Calendar as well as in the Announcements section of the Garden Beet.  Remember these classes can also be used toward continuing education hours for Master Gardeners.


Reminder to Master Gardeners:

If you as a Master Gardener provide a presentation that has not been set up by the Speakers Bureau Coordinator (Colet Allen) please send an email or text 425-941-7637 to her with the following information: Day and time of the presentation; the Title; Location; Name of the presenter; and Number of people in attendance.  We need to track our outreach efforts as some of our funding is based on the value we provide.  Thanks to all of you who are out there working to improve our community.


Winter Dreams Summer Gardens 2022

By Beet 2022 12 December

By Colet Allen, Susan Koenig, and Barbara Low


Our Winter Dreams Summer Gardens 2022 was a great success! We wanted to make sure to thank everyone involved to make this event an actuality. It genuinely took a village to accomplish all that was involved.

The Winter Dreams Summer Garden 2022 team gives a big thank you to the Winter Dreams Summer Gardens 2021 team for leaving such a good road map for us to follow. The records that were left gave us a great starting point and allowed us to get right to work. After reviewing what was in Dropbox, we had a good idea of what was going to be needed by us to make the Winter Dreams Summer Gardens 2022 event happen, maybe not seamlessly but close to it.

The three of us were able to look at the compilation of information and determine what the path for development was going to be. We created a timeline for accomplishing each major step from start to finish. Once this was done, we each used our strengths to fit ourselves into the slots that would best meet our personal wants and at the same time, figure out what the project would need, equally balance the workload, and end up with a quality product.

Division of labor between the three team members was one of the joys of this project. We worked well together, kept each other informed on all matters and enjoyed the process. We started early in the year so that there was plenty of time to plan and determine if there was some new energy and ideas that we could bring to this year’s symposium.

One of the new things we wanted to address was to make sure we documented our process as we went along. We each agreed that it was important that we documented our process along with the forms we created to accomplish our tasks. Our plan was that once the Symposium was complete and after a little time to decompress, we would review the process and determine what remains to be documented. Our goal is to review, develop what is missing, and download a completed process to Dropbox by mid-January.

At the suggestion of one of our Master Gardeners who is also a Licensed Landscaper (Thank you, Sherri Morgan), we sought accreditation and to determine if JCMGA could get our presentations certified by the Oregon State Landscaper Contractors Board (LCB) for their required continuing education hours. We worked with the State Board and were able to get all sixteen of our offerings certified. We only had four landscapers who took advantage of that opportunity this year. Next year, we will do a statewide outreach now that we know what the state is looking for and are confident that JCMGA can offer this service at a very reasonable rate. Working with this group of people in Salem was a real pleasure. They were responsive to phone calls/emails and worked with us to make sure we understood exactly what was needed to ensure we gave them the correct information to expedite the process. They were a joy to work with.

In addition to the traditional methods for getting the word out, we wanted to explore a few new ones. Besides appealing to the Licensed Landscapers, we worked with Medford Parks and Recreation. We put a quarter-page advertisement in their Fall booklet that went out in early September to 44,000 homes.

As a non-profit organization, we were able to use the QuestionPro Survey program this year. By sending out a survey we are trying to determine what is working and what is not. Please fill it out so that we can improve. It will probably take a couple of years to gather enough information to help make needed changes, but we appreciate and welcome your feedback.

Thanks to our Communications Working Group for following our schedule for PSAs, Facebook postings, Mailchimps, and other forms of advertising. We also had some help from OMGA, Josephine County Master Gardeners, OSU Extension and the OSU Task Force. A big thank you to all.

We were very happy with our wonderful presenters and pleased with the turnout for this year’s Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium. We were able to provide a wide variety of relevant gardening topics with very qualified presenters. We tried to cover topics that we felt were important, including climate change, fire-resistant gardening, native plants, etc.

We learned a few lessons along the way. Our plan is to build on that knowledge and continue to develop a high-quality educational event for our gardening community.

What are we recommending for next year? We have a list of several speakers we want to ask back for other areas of their expertise and some new ones that we did not have room for this year.

We would also like to hear from you, the reader, and find out who you would recommend and what other subjects you would like to learn about.

Please give us information concerning what you liked and what we could improve on. Critical review is valuable, and we appreciate the feedback.  Feel free to contact us at

Speakers Bureau Presentation to Jacksonville Garden Club Part I Soil Biology by Susan Koenig

By Beet 2022 10 October

During Susan Koenig’s Soil Biology Part 1 presentation to the Jacksonville Garden Club on Thursday, September 15th, there was a bit of scurrying about to get the audio-visual situation set up so that it worked for Susan. I want to mention to speakers and potential future speakers that you must know what your needs are in advance of your presentation. Make sure the venue you are in can accommodate your specific needs. At least know what you need to make your presentation work in their space. That is crucial to your success and your ability to deliver the information you have prepared for your audience comfortably and without undue anxiety for yourself.

I thought when we heard that her presentation would be given in the Jacksonville City Hall Council Chambers that the venue would have everything she would need. It did, but the configuration was totally backwards. The podium with sound and a placement area for a computer on the podium faced in a direction that had Susan not facing the audience. Fortunately, there were some cardboard boxes available. Susan grabbed them, stacked them appropriately, and oriented them in the direction she would face. She made the space work for her. She asked the audience to move to one side of the huge room which had ceilings so high it would make the moon envious.

Another thing was that the 48” TV screen that her presentation would be projected on was very high up at the far end of the room so that the printing on the slides was not readable although, the pictures were okay. If you are using PowerPoint or a similar program, be aware of the font size that you must use to make sure people can read it.

Susan did just fine, reading what the slide said and then giving them the information she wanted to pass along. I saw many very engaged people in the attendance scribbling like crazy to record the information.

When Susan wrapped up, she was right at the time limit for her presentation. Because of the time spent with boxes and reorienting her position to face her audience, there was no time left for Q & A. Her audience was not finished; they paid no attention to the clock and started their questions. Fifteen minutes later, Susan wrapped it up and received very hardy applause.

Susan is a seasoned speaker and turned that potential conundrum into a real success. The following day, this note from Heidi Elliot, the Jackson Garden Club Vice President arrived in our email.

Hi! It was so nice to meet you both today. The feedback I’m getting is wonderful. It seems everyone loved your presentation. Including me!!

I had several people tell me how pleased they were to learn new things that can be so helpful to us wanna-be Master Gardeners!

I hope you will consider joining us again with further knowledge in the future!

Many thanks,

There were lessons learned today by me, Susan, and Janine, one of our new speakers, who came to observe one of our Master Gardeners in action. I know that I will ask a lot more questions when receiving a request. I am sure any of the speakers going to present someplace they have never gone to before will also make sure they know the availability of equipment, the layout of the room, etc. Thanks, Susan, for turning this into a learning moment.

We will certainly go back. It was a very warm and friendly group obviously very interested in learning more from Master Gardeners. Heidi said she would send out a questionnaire and ask what subjects her club members are interested in. JCMGA might be able to provide some of them. We do have Lynn Kunstman scheduled for Native Plants on October 20th and John Kobal in 2023. The Club meets at the Jacksonville City Hall.

We have some new speakers and if any of them would like to share their ideas with the Jacksonville Garden Club, let me know. Heidi and I did speak about the situation Susan encountered and she will address this with the City Hall IT person and see what can be done so that the garden club presenter does not have to deal with this issue in the future. They meet every 3rd Thursday from 12:30 to 2:00 through June 2023.

Out in the Community

By Beet 2022 09 September

JCMGA Members Participating in the Annual OLLI Open House Share Their Insights


by Colet Allen

JCMGA participated in the OLLI Open House held at SOU’s Stevenson Student Union on Friday, July 23, 2022. John Kobal and Susan Koenig were asked to staff one of the instructor’s tables for Recreation. I was seated directly across from them at the Development Committee table. I almost never saw them as they constantly had three to seven people lined up with questions and folks eager to talk to about gardening. John and Susan now have their own OLLI following. They will be teaching an Ornamental Gardening in the Rogue Valley class on Wednesdays this fall from 9 to 10:30 a.m. For information on registration, go to the OLLI at SOU website.

You could tell that people were enjoying this event by the noise level and vibration in the huge room. The hustle and bustle of people going to and coming from the Heritage Organizations in the main entry hall and the fabulous, donated food from several of our retirement facilities who were set up in the cafeteria all added to this event. The Rogue River Room housed information tables for SOU, OLLI Instructors and the OLLI Committees.

It was a successful event partly because several past members returned and there were about an equal number of new members who signed up. Some of the new members had just moved to the Rogue Valley. It was a fun event, a great outing and wonderful to get together with good friends again. I heard that there were over 800 people in attendance.

From John Kobal:

A fun time was had by all at the OLLI Open House. OLLI has so many interesting courses – and one that covers Ornamental Gardening, too. Yup, Susan Koenig and John Kobal are at it again. They are co-hosting the Fall OLLI series of classes, as was done two years previously. OLLI (via Zoom format) affords attendees the opportunity to learn about gardening in the comfort of their own homes. With all the COVID-19 scares still abounding, we again opted for the Zoom format. In between each session, attendees can forward questions specific to their needs. John and Susan respond directly to the participant and share questions/responses with the class when deemed generally applicable. Questions during the class are also encouraged. OLLI has proven itself very valuable in concert with the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau. Many participants are simply after help with their own gardens and OLLI provides a great medium for obtaining information and access to Master Gardeners (Susan and John). OLLI also provides a forum for promoting Jackson County Master Gardener classes and the Association. It’s a win-win for everyone.

From Susan Koenig:

John and I were asked to staff the Recreation table at OLLI’S annual Open House. Six to eight hundred attendees were expected. The booths were staffed by instructors in each subject area. We were available to talk with attendees about our curriculum for Ornamental Gardening which will be held this fall and Vegetable Gardening, which is held in the spring. I brought both Garden Guide texts, an outline of each curriculum, and a laptop with one of the PowerPoint presentations that attendees could page through. I also had a signup sheet for those who wanted to be reminded of when the registrations for Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens and the Master Gardener Program open. We got 21 signatures for both! I’m not sure how many people stopped by the table, but I do know I was always busy talking to some delightful folks and the hour and one half went by very quickly. It reminded me of working in the Plant Clinic because I fielded several questions on plant problems and made recommendations on plant selection, too. All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon and I discovered that there is life after COVID-19 for the JCMGA with a new, enthusiastic group of volunteers waiting to join us.

Speakers Bureau: Red Wigglers Are Very Prolific in Home Worm Bins

By Beet 2022 06 June

Eisenia fetida, known under various common names such as manure worm,[2] redwormbrandling wormpanfish wormtrout wormtiger wormred wiggler worm, etc., is a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. These worms thrive in rotting vegetationcompost, and manure. They are epigean, rarely found in soil. 

—Wikipedia® text; used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0

John Kobal’s fun, creative and educational presentation on Worm Composting at the Medford Library on Saturday, May 14, did not disappoint. John pointed out that the red wiggler works at the surface and is prolific. With just a few Red Wigglers to start, you can rapidly end up with a bin-full. 

John cautioned the audience to not confuse these surface dwellers with the earthworms who create tunnels and networks several feet down into the soil, taking nutrients and oxygen down with them. Other earthworms are not suitable for worm bins.

Those present could purchase the few items needed to make a worm bin and start raising red wigglers tomorrow. 

He brought several books, but mentioned one in particular as his personal go-to book: Worms Eat My Garbage, by Mary Applehof.

I am sure he had at least one convert in the room. After sharing his container full of red wigglers, John put them on a paper and demonstrated that they do not like light. We all went up to the table and looked at the pile of worms as they dove into the interior of the soil pile to get away from the light. He also had a container of worm castings which looked a bit like dried coffee grounds. He put the pile of worms and their soil back in the container and offered them to the participants. One young lady raised her hand and smiled brightly when John gave her the container of worms.

John was a brave soul to take on the first-time hybrid Zoom/in-person platform for a garden presentation. I am sure he made some last-minute adjustment to accommodate that this was new and being worked out. Originally, the presentation was to be in one of the library’s garden areas where soil and worms on the ground would not be an issue. The hybrid class was moved indoors to a room with new carpeting. Thanks, John, for flexibility and a pioneering spirit to take on new technology and for being neat and clean about relocation! This hybrid model will probably become the norm as we move away from COVID-19 and back to normal. After all, what gardener has not learned the lesson of flexibility? There will be changes as new techniques are explored and new equipment becomes available. 

There were six people on Zoom and seven in person. The in-person people did have the advantage of handling the worms and seeing what castings look like. One happy person left with her new “pets.”

Thanks again, John, for a very enjoyable and instructive hour.

Why Natives

By Beet 2022 05 May


Elle Anderson of the Ashland Library contacted JCMGA and asked if we would consider participating in the Jackson County Library System’s career development day. She was looking for a recommendation for a gardening topic that would have wide appeal to a broad range of interest. Lynn Kunstman responded immediately with her subject, “Why Native Plants.” Thank you, Lynn.

Based on my personal experience with Lynn’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and especially her power of persuasion about the use of native plants, I thought this was the perfect presentation for this event. It is scheduled for late April and will have JCLS staff from all branches as attendees.

Early in the pandemic, I went to Lynn’s driveway to purchase some plants that she was selling to keep some funds rolling in for JCMGA during these challenging times. This pop-up sale was an honor system arrangement and I did not expect to see her. However, she and her hubby drove up as I was looking over the offerings. Being new to the Rogue Valley, I was only slightly familiar with most of the plants. I was looking for milkweed as I did want to attract Monarchs. So, masked and at least six feet apart, we had a lively conversation. Like busy bees pollinating a large garden, we conversationally buzzed among many native plant topics. During the 30 to 40 minutes in Lynn’s driveway, along with her recommendation of watching Doug Tallamy on YouTube, I became a convert.

I am wondering how many converts she will create who would join me in their own gardens, bottoms up, and heads down, moving plants and making room for new natives such as those that I am now aware of and on the lookout for.

We can become a movement that finds ways to improve our environment and makes way for more birds and insects that can help move our planet back toward a healthier place for all life to thrive.


Susan Koenig and John Kobal were off to a grand start with OLLI class, “Vegetable Gardening in the Rogue Valley.” Their first class of the eight-week session had 39 participants and covered a deep dive into soils. John and Susan provided detailed information from testing to what it takes to create good gardening soils to how to keep it that way. Susan and John have created their own fan club in the OLLI World and I expect that their followers will continue to sign up for many more interesting gardening classes in the future.


The Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium Is Coming This Fall

By Beet 2022 05 May



The leadership team for the 2022 WDSG is in place and busy. Barbara Low, Colet Allen and Susan Koenig are this year’s team leaders and will endeavor to keep you up to date with a monthly short report in The Garden Beet as we move forward.

So far, we have chosen Zoom as the format. The dates are Friday, October 28, and Saturday 29, and in November, Friday the 4th, and Saturday the 5th. There will be 4 sessions each day for a total of 16, each an hour and one-half long with 30 minutes between sessions. The cost will be $30 for all or as many sessions as you chose to watch.

We have created the Save the Day flyer and will need some volunteers to help distribute them in early May once we have finalized the locations where they will be posted and the number of flyers needed. Flyers will also go out to the JCMGA membership via Mailchimp, and we ask that each of you share them broadly with friends and family. Using Zoom makes location irrelevant with no barriers and requires only the Internet and a device on which to watch presentations on in the privacy of your own home.

Other volunteers are needed to help with this event. Its successful outcome is dependent on those volunteers that give so generously of their time and skills. We thank you in advance for helping bring about this achievement.

As we get the presentations and presenters on board, we will send out another flyer with the schedule, speakers, their subjects, and how to register. So, get the dates on your calendar and stay tuned.

JCMGA Speakers Are Off to a Great Start

By Beet 2022 04 April

I would like to thank Susan Koenig for her excellent and enlightening presentation on Caring for Roses via the Medford Library Zoom class on March 12th. She kept 21 attendees on Zoom for an hour and one-half. Q and A went into overtime with people wanting more information.

She taught us how to treat roses the way “they” want to be treated.  Her rose language ability has come through many years of trial and some errors. But she has certainly mastered it.  Her love, calm enthusiasm and respect for these beautiful flowers were evident throughout her knowledgeable talk.           

The JCMGA Speakers Bureau thanks Susan for being the first speaker for a new and hopeful season.

There is more to follow.  Next month, Monette Hoffmeister will lecture on Waterwise Gardening via Zoom through JCMGA’s collaboration with the Medford Library. Those of us lucky enough to have seen Monette in action recognized a star in the JCMGA galaxy last fall as one of the presenters in Susan Koenig and John Kobal’s Ornamental Gardening class through OLLI. Monette will be speaking on Saturday, April 23rd from 1:00 pm to 2:30 PM. Don’t miss this timely and informative talk on Waterwise Gardening. Call Carrie Tannehill at 541-774-6414 to sign up.

Then, in May, John Kobal will be doing a demonstration lecture (hopefully in person) on vermiculture. His presentation will be in one of the library’s outdoor gardens on Saturday, May 14th from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM. A treat for young and old, John’s enthusiasm is infectious and spreads like dandelion seeds in the wind.

Starting Thursday, March 31, from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM, Susan Koenig and John Kobal will be teaching another OLLI class on Vegetable Gardening in the Rogue Valley over eight consecutive weeks. To take this course you must be an OLLI member and can find information by calling the OLLI office at 541-552-6048 or emailing

If you have a subject you love and would like to share it as a speaker, please contact Colet Allen, JCMGA Speakers Bureau Coordinator, at 425-941-7637.  We are looking for new and old ways to enlighten our community and by doing so, to discover that we are learning as much as we are teaching. Our Outreach Working Group is looking at ways that we can connect to smaller, under-served communities within the Rogue Valley.  If you have an idea, just want to find out what we are about, or want to talk about your love of a certain subject, send me a text or call. I would love to speak with you.


Master Gardeners Teach Vegetable Gardening at OLLI

By Beet 2022 03 March

Two of JCMGA’s outstanding gardeners, Susan Koenig and John Kobal, will again be teaching during OLLI’s (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) spring session. Their online Zoom class, REC112 Vegetable Gardening in the Rogue Valley, is open to all who register. There are eight, one and one-half hour classes on Thursdays from 9 to 10:30 AM. Classes begin on March 31 and finish on May 19. Reading assignments are based on the JCMGA text Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley: Year ‘Round & Month by Month – VegetablesBerriesMelons, 2017 Edition.Copies can be purchased at the Grange or OSU Extension Office at 569 Hanley Road, Central Point, telephone 541-776-7371.

You can find out more about the class and the instructors by going to l. To take this class or any other OLLI class, an OLLI membership is required. (You can browse classes without being a member.) Find out how to register at the OLLI homepage, call their office at 541-552-6048, or email