An enthusiastic volunteer for UNH Extension’s Yard and Garden Infoline

  • Megan Hanna - Master Gardener

Megan Hanna is an enthusiastic volunteer for UNH Extension’s Yard and Garden Infoline, a free service connecting home gardeners with Master Gardener (MG) volunteers. So committed to the program, she travels 50 miles from Tilton to Extension’s Education Center in Goffstown.  “Because the drive is long, I work a double session once a week,” says Megan.

The three-year Infoline veteran is often called upon to speak to MG training classes.  She shares her “best practices” for researching questions that clients ask over the phone or email.

In her presentations she talks about how much she learns as an Infoline volunteer. For instance, she now knows about growing ever-bearing strawberries, sweet potatoes, and some unusual native New Hampshire plants. She usually cites a few recent phone questions that are particularly interesting, such as “red algae found in streams, whether to accept free plants from those who have jumping worms and dealing with mildew on a beautiful old peony bush.”

Megan says, “people are so surprised and pleased to have a human pick up the phone and address their questions.” Rarely is she able to answer questions immediately, so she takes their questions, gets their email address, and after researching, sends them the information.

The UNH Extension Infoline began in 2021 and since then more than 4,000 questions about home, yard, plants and garden topics have been answered every year from residents in and out of state. 

“The Ed Center provides an important service for home gardeners,” says Megan, who worked in cancer research at the Broad Institute in Cambridge. “It is stunning how much gardening misinformation is out there … and amazing what really fine gardening research there is out there too.” She thinks it’s harder for home gardeners to distinguish and access the information. The Infoline and Ed Center bring these research-based methods to the home gardener via phone, email, fact sheets or presentations. 

The Ed Center’s current staff team “is great to work with. They are smart, knowledgeable and lots of fun,” she says. In the office she is happy to help new volunteers when they are stuck on something or have questions.

To enliven her discussions with new MGs in training, she sprinkles her talk with funny or unusual calls she has gotten on Infoline. Recently, a man called saying he had a “basement full of beer” and, needing to get rid of it, wondered if he could treat his lawn with beer. Researching she found “there are tons of accounts of people putting beer on their lawn,” but couldn’t find reputable evidence for beer treatment on lawns. Subsequently, he wondered if he could use it to feed his cows. Images of drunk cows sprung into both their minds, and laughter ensued. Eventually she advised him to treat a small yard area, and check the results of beer treatment. Research can sometimes be conducted at home.

In her off-time she writes a charming column ( about her small farm. These stories are to “entertain her grandchildren,” she says, but also grandchildren everywhere. Her sister Caitlin Corbett is the column’s editor and also a MG. She encouraged a hesitant Megan to apply for MG training in 2020. Megan is so glad she did!

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