NC State Extension Publications

General Information About the Role of Associations

There are independent associations at the state and county level that have been formed to support the work of MGVs and the EMG program.

The purpose of these associations is to

  1. enhance, supplement, and aid in improving the effectiveness of its members as volunteers in the NC State EMG program;
  2. raise issues of concern for improvement of the EMG program;
  3. facilitate communication among Association members through an Association newsletter, website, regular meetings, and other events;
  4. raise funds in support of the Association, state, county and multi-county, consumer horticulture, and EMG programs; and
  5. sponsor select educational and social activities for North Carolina’s MGVs.

These roles and activities are not the exclusive responsibility of an association. Extension staff also conduct events, meetings, and field trips; send newsletters; manage websites and social media communication; and provide volunteer recognition to Extension's volunteer staff.

Associations focus on supporting MGVs and the program while Extension and North Carolina MGVs focus on providing direct service to the public.

While the ultimate responsibility for the NC State EMG program rests with the Extension faculty and staff in each county, EMG associations are vital partners, providing much-needed financial support, advocacy, and educational opportunities for volunteers and staff.

Funds

Funds raised by the EMG program and the EMG association should be kept separate.

Extension Funds

Training material fees collected from participants in the EMG program are public sector funds and should be dispersed through an Extension account. Extension cannot spend publicly appropriated funds (from tax dollars) to print materials (applications and forms) for an association. Extension cannot include information on joining an association or promoting an association event or activity in Extension newsletters or other correspondence when using Extension letterhead or postage.

Association Funds

Association officers should manage dues collected and funds raised by an association. The members of an association are responsible for all expenses incurred in order to conduct association activities. Extension agents are encouraged to present financial requests for support of the EMG program to the association.

Liability

An MGV (as an agent of NC State University) is covered by the university liability policies when performing volunteer services provided he or she is following a role description and is adhering to EMG program policies. An EMG association and its members are not covered by NC State University liability policies.

Public perception

As an organization whose membership comes from Extension’s volunteer staff, the EMG associations must consider how the public and the funding partners of Extension perceive them. Activities such as endorsing a political candidate or controversial zoning ordinance could have a negative effect on the EMG program. Individuals may, however, take any position they choose, provided they do so as an individual and not as an MGV or a member of an EMG association.

Logos and servicemarked terms

The NC State EMG logo, Extension letterhead and logo, and NC State University letterhead and logo may only be used in connection with programs sponsored by Extension with the permission of the local Extension agent. The only logo to be used in the state of North Carolina in conjunction with the term “Master Gardener” is the official NC State EMG logo. EMG associations must be issued a charter by NC State University to use the EMG title and logo. Contact the state EMG coordinator to apply for a charter. For more information see Using the NC State Extension Master Gardener Program Service Marks and Logo, AG-798.

Extension Master Gardener and Master Gardener are service marks of NC State Extension and may only be used by Extension or EMG Associations licensed to use the terms by NC State through issue of a charter.

Clarification of Roles

The selection, initial training, management, and evaluation of Master Gardener volunteers are the responsibility of the local Extension agent and are not appropriate roles for an association to undertake. All volunteer work that is to be counted within the NC State EMG system falls under the direction of the EMG program, which operates under the leadership of the Extension horticulture agent. Use the NC State Extension logo and contact information, rather than the EMG association’s, on signs at public education events sponsored by Extension and on educational materials for distribution to the public.

The local Extension agent may assist with the initial organization of an association and is encouraged to serve as the faculty advisor to the group after they are organized. The agent may not be an association officer, handle funds, or perform the day-to-day activities of the association. He or she is expected to address issues, positions, and activities of the association that might compromise the integrity of the EMGV program.

Neither a local EMG association nor its members are authorized to make EMG policy decisions. They are prohibited from presenting themselves as speaking for the EMG program, Extension, or NC State.

Memorandum of Agreement

The NC State Extension and EMG associations work closely on many aspects of the EMG program. The specific roles and responsibilities of each local EMG association are described in a Memorandum of Agreement between that association and Extension in each county. This guiding document is essential for the clear leadership of North Carolina MGVs and compliance with state ethics laws. This document defines the major responsibilities between the two groups. For local associations, the responsibility for completion of the document rests with the Extension local director, the local Extension agent, and the local EMG Association Board of Directors. For the state association, the responsibility lies with the state EMG coordinator, the director of Extension, and the Board of Directors for the NCEMGVA. Sample templates and instructions are available from the state EMG coordinator. North Carolina MGVs are encouraged to review a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement pertinent to their program, which may be obtained from their local Extension center or local EMG association.

The Role of the North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association, (NCEMGVA)

NCEMGVA, the statewide EMGV Association in North Carolina, was formed in 1991. This 501(c)(3) organization was created to enhance the effectiveness of its members in their roles as volunteers for Extension. NCEMGVA's officers are elected by the membership, and the Board of Directors includes delegates elected or appointed by the members in each county.

The Association facilitates EMG training, fund development, advocacy, and communication on a statewide level. North Carolina MGVs should visit www.ncmastergardeners.org for a more complete view of the Association and related resources.

Membership is limited to individuals who have successfully completed the NC State EMG initial training, are members in good standing of their local or multi-county NC State EMG program, and pay annual dues to the Association. Extension staff are eligible for associate membership (non-voting, non-dues paying). MGVs are not required to join the state or local associations in order to volunteer with Extension. Mandatory collection of county or state EMG Association dues as a requirement to be in the EMG program is prohibited.

The NCEMGVA has been certified by the IRS as an Umbrella 501(c)(3), so local EMG associations can obtain their 501(c)(3) status more easily and less expensively through the state association.

The Role of Local Associations

Volunteers in some counties have formed EMG associations to work in partnership with Extension to support their local EMG program. Such organizations may be formal (incorporated with the state of North Carolina) or informal (unincorporated).

Author

Extension Urban Horticulture Specialist
Horticultural Science

Publication date: Sept. 29, 2019
AG-799

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