University of Maryland Extension

HGIC to End Phone Service; Will Focus on Digital Outreach and Services

Home and Garden Information Center


Since its inception in 1990 HGIC has adapted to the changing needs of our audience, both in gardening topics and teaching methods. Recorded phone tips, inventories of printed pubs, and a snail mail newsletter are some of the information delivery methods we’ve used, and discontinued, over the years. In the mid-1990s we developed a website; in 2004 a web-based Q&A service. Over the past five years we’ve added videos, this newsletter, and social media tools. Increases in website, blog, and YouTube traffic, along with the growth of the MG program, have coincided with an 80% reduction in phone calls (from a peak in 1992). This decline is no reflection on our fantastic horticulture consultants, known for their professionalism, expertise, and practical answers.

We are ending our phone service as of December 22, 2014. This difficult decision will allow our horticulture consultants to focus on Ask an Expert,” improve and expand the website, and increase social media outreach. This will help us reach a larger and more diverse audience and provide you with the up-to-date information you’ve come to expect. If you’ve been calling the 800# please get in the habit of sending questions through the website. Just click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” on the homepage. Questions can be sent day and night. Please attach photos if possible. An e-mail answer from one of our horticulture consultants will be delivered within 48 hours. We appreciate your support and look forward to being a trusted gardening resource for you in 2015. Best wishes for a healthy and peaceful holiday season.

-Jon Traunfeld HGIC Director and Extension Specialist

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