A part of being a master gardener is using our knowledge as a volunteer. Some put in time at the extension office on the garden hotline, some volunteer hours at the master gardener’s’booth at the retail greenhouses in the spring and some work our garden plot growing fresh vegetables for the local food bank. I’ve done all of those things but I mostly do programs and workshops for area groups.
The program that I’m getting ready for will be on Monday, March 9 for the Ladies Library Association at their 1:30 tea. I will be presenting a 1/2 hour talk on Butterfly Gardening. Usually my presentations are for an hour or, in the case of the Girl Scouts, 3 hour workshops.
I love powerpoint presentations! When I first began garden talks, I used slides – now it’s got to be powerpoint. It’s easier to put together and easier to present. You can add title pages easily and put your own little notes on each page. And when you are speaking on something as visual as gardening, it really helps to have pictures.
It is important to look at the audience when you’re talking in order to connect with them. Except for a loose outline, I’d rather not write the speech down; I end up reading my cards instead of simply talking about a subject that I know something about. I try to personalize the talk with my own experiences, it keeps the program interesting. Since I work at the public library I usually have a variety of books that the audience members can look at and browse afterwards. I also have a thing about handouts, I like people to take home information to keep their interest beyond the program.
So here is how I put it together. Right now, I have way too much info for a 30 minute program, so I try to break it down in a loose outline form.
A. My Introduction – 5 minutes
- Who I am and what I do
- My background -growing up country and family influences
- How I got interested in gardening and gardening with butterflies
- Why it is a wonderful thing to do
B. About Butterflies – 10 minutes
- Visiting the local Nature Center Butterfly House
- Life cycle of a butterfly
- Common butterflies in the area
- Other butterfly houses in Michigan to visit
- Frederik Meijer Gardens Butterfly Conservatory – Grand Rapids
- Michigan State University Butterfly House
- Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect Museum
C. Butterfly Gardens – 10 minutes
- Survival needs for butterflies – food, drink, shelter
- Garden needs for growing plants – basic garden design
- Nectar plants for common species
- Food plants for larvae
- Raising butterflies
- Websites to visit
D. Questions and handouts- 5 minutes
Once I have an outline, I’ve got to find the pictures to go with the talk.
Then it is practice, practice, practice to get the timing down and to feel comfortable with the program.
Above all, have fun, laugh, make it sound like you are happy to be there and can’t wait to tell the ladies how great butterfly gardens are.