By Jim Buck
Master Gardener 2018
Gail Langellotto, Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator, and LeAnn Locher, Statewide Master Gardener Outreach Coordinator, are facilitating a DEI Task Force. The Task Force includes several Master Gardener (MG) staff and faculty along with 30+ volunteer Master Gardeners from across the state. Colet Allen and Jim Buck volunteered to participate for the coming year and the group will focus on ways to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion in the MG program.
Why a DEI Task Force?
Over the past ten years, small incremental changes have been made to the MG program to address inequities and to grow diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2020, the Master Gardener program made clear statements and reinforced its commitment to building a more inclusive program. All of us involved in the MG program are being asked to work on:
- Increasing the diversity of who we serve in the community
- Increasing the diversity of who we are in the program
- Growing the breadth of our curriculum and events to include cultural practices and inclusion
- Modeling inclusive practices to our peers in the MG program
- Forming, growing, and strengthening our work with community partners
We provide accessible and equitable education programs that nurture life-long learners and volunteers who can expand the reach and impact of science-based sustainable gardening practices to benefit all Oregonians.
One of the guiding values is that we are connected to our local communities and that their needs drive the work of our program. We are inclusive, where everyone is welcome, valued, and supported. We know that collaboration and partnerships with our communities, community organizations, and neighbors make us stronger and that together we create positive change.
If you are like me, when I initially thought of DEI, what first came to mind were race, gender, and maybe age. DEI in the MG program has a much broader meaning. Access to land (outside a garden plot or apartment balcony); access to transportation and the internet; career; diet; education; upbringing; language; talents; abilities/disabilities; and ideas are just a few of the many parts of DEI.
To address this broader meaning, Task Force members have been divided up into one of four work groups:
- Who becomes a MG?
- Who do we serve in the community?
- How can our MG curriculum and content grow to be more inclusive?
- Events and programming (beyond curriculum)
In addition to the monthly large group Task Force meetings, each work group meets monthly to discuss ways to improve our program.
The Jackson County MG program is highly regarded throughout the state. With support of our leadership and each Master Gardener, we can enhance our DEI efforts and make our program even more welcoming. If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend viewing at least the first 15 minutes of this link: Efforts to Promote Racial Justice in Oregon’s Master Gardener Program.