Competencies, benefits and limitations for Master Gardener Coordinators: A delphi technique involving county extension agents in Texas
Lockett, Landry L.
This study sought to develop a list of best management competencies, benefits and limitations for Texas Cooperative Extension Agents who are Master Gardener Coordinators using a Delphi technique. The study utilized fifteen expert County Extension Agent Master Gardener Coordinators throughout the State of Texas as the expert Delphi panel. Three research questions were asked of the expert panel members. Those questions included: 1. What competencies do you need to be an efficient and effective Master Gardener Coordinator?, 2. What are the perceived benefits of being a Master Gardener Coordinator? and 3. What are the limiting factors (problems) of being a Master Gardener Coordinator? One hundred-twenty consolidated statements were generated by the panel in response to these questions. These statements were subsequently rated by the panel for their strength of agreement with each statement on a six-point Likert-type scale (6 = "Strongly Agree," 5 = "Agree," 4 = "Somewhat Agree," 3 = "Somewhat Disagree," 2 = "Disagree," and 1 = "Strongly Disagree"). Consensus was reached on 64 competencies needed by Master Gardener Coordinators, answering research question one. There were a total of 19 benefit statements regarding coordinating a Master Gardener program, in response to research question two. Two statements of limiting factors or problems associated with coordinating a Master Gardener Group achieved consensus associated with research question three. Categories of competencies needed included organizational leadership, systems leadership, organizational culture, personal skills and management skills. The panel placed an emphasis on "people" skills, positive attitude and management skills to be an effective Master Gardener Coordinator. Benefits of coordinating Master Gardeners included such items as expanding the reach of the County Extension Agent and increasing Extension’s impact. Problems associated with coordinating Master Gardeners included increasing the County Extension Agent’s workload as well time commitments. The results of this study will provide Texas Master Gardener Coordinators a list of essential competencies for effectively managing a Master Gardener program. This list will help Extension Master Gardener Coordinators most effectively utilize their time, energy and resources for maximum impact and program success.