Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Algonquin College and Lanark County Master Gardeners

Dale Odorizzi
Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County
For over 15 years, Lanark County Master Gardeners and the Perth Campus of Algonquin College have partnered to present Horticultural Seminars to our community. We have presented between 4 and 9 seminars each year for both the Fall and Winter semesters. Some years, we run a series of workshops that require students to attend the full set of sessions while other years we host independent sessions so the attendees can pick and choose individual seminars. The topics range from the technical (Science of Gardening) to the artistic (Creating Fall Containers using natural material) and everything in between. Algonquin College provides the facilities, including “smart classrooms”, the advertising and registration, photocopying. We develop and deliver the courses.

There are many advantages for our group to participate in this program. We receive free advertising for these seminars which gets our name well known even to people who do not attend the seminars. We do not have to find a location, advertise or handle registration so there are no upfront costs in conducting the sessions. Because we have had this long relationship with Algonquin, we try to be very responsive to their requests so that we can keep it going. We likely have been more consistent in the delivery of these seminars than if we did them on our own. Most of our group gets involved each semester in one way or another, even if they hate public speaking. In fact one of our members who refused to speak before a group decided to partner at one of the sessions, then went on to deliver her own and with the confidence gained has enrolled in law school! The down side is that if there is insufficient enrollment, Algonquin can cancel the seminar. The other down side is that we get paid the same amount if Algonquin has 4 registrants or 25.

The advantages for Algonquin College is financial as well as providing another element in their Continuing Education Program. The Perth Campus of Algonquin College main focus is on Heritage Construction and Masonry. Providing seminars in the Horticultural area is a complementary addition.

We are fortunate that the Perth Campus does not have a “for credit” Horticultural program so they are very happy to work with us. From time to time, especially when there has been a high enrollment or our session was cancelled, we discuss whether or not we could deliver our seminars on our own. It would mean a risk in terms of upfront costs, extra work handling registration and we always agree that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Check out our Fall 2014 offering

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