All applicants should participate in an interview with the local Extension staff coordinator or a Master Gardener selection committee.
Regardless of who does the interview, these guidelines must be followed:
- Be consistent. Interview all applicants, not just some of the applicants. Not following consistent procedures with all applicants is discriminatory.
- Do not ask questions about the applicant's age, marital status, children, race, national origin, creed, religion, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation. Avoid any personal questions other than those that are predetermined by the interviewer/interview team and are pertinent to the applicant's gardening experience and interests. Here are sample interview questions.
Based on the number of applicants and local program staff or management, the interview may be as informal as a telephone conversation or as formal as a scheduled meeting with an interview team. An advisory group or a team of experienced Master Gardener volunteers make a good interview team. The interview is an opportunity to learn more about the applicant, make some preliminary assessment about communication abilities and personality style, and learn more about the applicant's motivation to become a Master Gardener. If an applicant is primarily interested in learning about gardening but not in volunteering, or is interested in learning only to improve his / her business, this is not a good candidate for the program. These individuals might rather be encouraged to apply for the “ProHort" training.
The interview is also an opportunity to provide orientation about the local and state Extension Master Gardener program. Use this opportunity to clarify expectations, consequences of not fulfilling expectations, benefits of becoming a Master Gardener, and other relevant information. Allow the applicant to ask questions. It is better to learn now than later that the applicant's interests are not a good match with the program's needs.
Why does an applicant want to become a Master Gardener?
Understanding an applicant's educational interest and motivation for becoming a Master Gardener is another important part of the selection process. The applicant who enjoys helping people by sharing his/her knowledge is more likely to have a higher level of satisfaction and a success as a Master Gardener. On the application form and during the interview process, it is important to ask questions that probe the interest and motivation of the applicant. Individuals who want to receive training to better manage their own property are not necessarily the best choice of applicants. Likewise, applicants who work in the horticultural industry must understand that they cannot advertise the fact that they are an Extension Master Gardener volunteer. If applicants are encouraged by their employer to apply as a means of professional training, the selection team should inform them about the Pro Hort option. Look for applicants who love horticulture, want to share their knowledge with others, and have some history of volunteer work.
What volunteer opportunities interest the applicant?
Use the application process to help identify specific interests or task preferences of applicants.
A preference list may be completed by applicants to help the selection team better understand an individual's interest areas. It gives you some insight into how successful, or happy, the individual will be in your program. Make sure the individuals you select to be Master Gardener interns understand and are interested in projects that your program typically engages in.
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