Washington State Cooperative Extension founded the Master Gardener program more than 40 years ago.
In order to meet the overwhelming demand for gardening information, Extension agents recruited home gardeners. In exchange for specialized training in horticulture, these gardeners made a commitment to spend time doing volunteer outreach work.
The Master Gardener program has grown since then, spreading across the United States and Canada. There are also similar programs in the United Kingdom, Australia and other counties.
In Georgia, the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is operated through local UGA Extension offices. After a Master Gardeners training in horticulture and other related fields, these individuals volunteer, under the direction of the extension office, to help educate others through horticulture programs and projects in the community.
The main reason for someone becoming a Master Gardener Extension volunteer is to combine volunteering with their love of horticulture.
In order to become a Master Gardener, you must submit an application to your local Extension office. Applications are accepted starting in late September until Thanksgiving.
During the month of December, we conduct interviews. The interviews are more a face-to-face meeting instead of an actual interview. This allows us time to explain the program and answer any questions the individual may have. The applicants will know by mid-December if they have been accepted into the program.
Classes begin in January and usually run for about 16 weeks. Master Gardener trainees (applicants who have been accepted into the program) must complete at least 40 hours of classroom instruction, pass midterm and final exams and complete 50 hours of volunteer work their first year.
After the first year, a Master Gardener Extension volunteer must complete 25 volunteer hours to maintain an active status.
Here in Houston County, we have more than 80 Master Gardener Extension volunteers. Master Gardeners provide tremendous help in the Extension office and in projects throughout the community.
Some of the projects that Master Gardeners are involved in include Halfey Park in Perry, the Healing Garden at Perry Hospital, the Junior Master Gardener Programs in many elementary and middle schools, vegetable gardening at Grace Village and landscaping houses for Habitat for Humanity in Warner Robins.
Volunteers also help with Ask A Master Gardener booths at public events, such as the Dogwood Festival and at farmers markets, the rain garden in Rotary Park in Perry, the Spring Home and Garden Show, plant sales, the Garden Bench newsletter and site visits. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, please contact your local Extension office.
For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.
Dates to remember
Production meetings for the Houston/Macon/Peach County area:
All meetings will be held at the Macon County Extension office at noon.
Feb. 28: Small farming registration deadline
Feb. 28: Rescheduled Ag forecast, Tifton
March 11: Soybean production
March 12: Pecan poduction
March 14: Small farm workshop, Milledgeville
March 14-15: 4-H Flea Market booth at Peaches to Beaches, Perry
March 15: Cloverleaf DPA, Perry
March 19: Growing Vegetables in Containers, Extension Office, Perry
March 21-22: Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale, Farmers Market, Macon
April 5-6: Spring Home & Garden Show, Perry
April 29: Totally Tomatoes, Extension Office, Perry
May 15: Countywide 4-H Luau, Rozar Park, Perry
May 22: Maintaining a Healthy Lawn, Extension Office, Perry
Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or email@example.com.