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The Latest Dirt - July 2022

Speakers Bureau's New Co-Lead Jumps Right In

By Gail Burt

Photo by Bob Burt. Gail Burt, new co-lead Webinar Programming.
Photo by Bob Burt. Gail Burt, new co-lead Webinar Programming.

Being a First Year UC Master Gardener, class of 2022, I have so much to learn and yet so much I can contribute. Benjamin Franklin said: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” I decided to follow this sage advice and jump right in…

During the COVID pandemic we all faced tremendous challenges and had to learn new ways of living; we had to “pivot”. Fortunately for me, the UC Master Gardener program of Contra Costa County New Volunteer Training pivoted by offering a 2022 class, all on Zoom.

The Speakers Bureau project under Andrea Salzman’s adept leadership was one of the first UC Master Gardener projects to pivot. When CCC Libraries temporarily closed its doors, Andrea turned a challenge into an opportunity by partnering with the CCC Library to offer the Speakers Bureau talks online. This “opportunity” enabled the Speakers Bureau to grow its reach significantly. Our YouTube webinar programs are now averaging almost 500 attendees during our live program, and it is not uncommon to have thousands of YouTube views of our programs within 24 hours of the live program!

With relevant topics, well-organized information and great presenters, the webinar attendance, and subsequent YouTube LiveStream and on-demand viewing of recorded webinar programs continue to grow and exceed expectations. Over the past two years, Andrea and her dedicated Speakers Bureau team have put together 30 brand new (or updated) talks, including two Spanish language programs.

Andrea’s two-year leadership role commenced the end of June. Due to the success and incredible continuing growth of the project, the Speakers Bureau Project Lead role will be distributed across two Co-Leads: Webinar Programs and Speaker Requests and In-Person Talks. We hope eventually to also find a third Co-Lead who will manage the creation and publication of Micro (under 5 minutes) and Short (6-15 minute) talks on YouTube.

I accepted the Speakers Bureau Co-Lead: Webinar Programming role, which enables me to use many years of corporate communications and program management experience. Having developed and presented leadership training programs, I am thrilled to contribute my expertise while learning from many great Speakers Bureau team members and presenters. The awesome Speakers Bureau team is giving me tremendous support in this role, for which I am incredibly grateful.

The future of this program continues to grow. Attendance for our webinar programs (live and on-demand) increased 2.5 times during 2022 over 2021, which was higher than 2020. Additionally, Andrea started cultivating a new partnership with the California State Library who wants to work with us to offer their very first webinar program as a result of demonstrating the delivery of consistently relevant, professional webinar programs (the head of the CA State Library and his wife are big fans of our webinar programs!!). Lori Palmquist and Dawn Kooyumjian will present this program on August 16 from 6–7:30 p.m. Look for registration information on VMS and our website.

So fellow UC Master Gardeners, join me in getting involved and sharing your talents. Here are some great opportunities:

Speakers Bureau Co-Lead: Speaker Requests & In-Person Talks:

This Co-Lead role provides leadership for all of our public requests for speakers (i.e., garden clubs, civic organizations, non-profits, etc.) and in- person talks including demonstration garden talks. The public speaker requests can be both in-person and web-based programs. This role includes partnership development with community organizations, marketing planning, guiding volunteers, UC reporting, etc. Currently seasoned volunteers are in place to handle the coordination and reporting for all these programs. Additionally, the 2022 in-person talk calendar has already been confirmed, so the new lead will be able to step right in and begin leading this work immediately. The prior Speakers Bureau Lead, Andrea Salzman, will provide training. This Co-Lead will collaborate with the Speakers Bureau Co-Lead: Webinar Programs to provide cohesive, coordinated programs.

Webinar Coordinators:

Manage the webinar programs end-to-end, including setting a project timeline, work with speakers to get the talk vetted/approved, work with marketing to develop program marketing, work with CCC Library partner, facilitate the live webinar program. Project management experience, strong organizational and communication skills, and strong technology skills required (Zoom and Powerpoint). Training is provided.

Presentation Developers:

Work with speaker to assist with their programs’ PowerPoint presentations. Depending on the speaker’s need, this might include anything from researching/developing the presentation to just doing some editing.

Other? Do you have a skill or interest that you feel could be used in Speakers Bureau? Let me know, would love to find a way to get you involved.
If you are interested in contributing your talents and joining this dynamic team, please reach out to Hedwig Van Den Broeck (hedwigvdb@gmail.com) or me (gail_burt@hotmail.com).