The Georgia MGEV Program is focused on extending education in five priority areas, referred to as state initiatives. These priorities include:
Environmental Stewardship – Increasing awareness and knowledge of landscape and garden management for the optimum use and protection of the environment, including management of all aspects of the residential landscape (soil, plants, insects, diseases, and wildlife), understanding and proper use of equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, and other landscaping inputs to have the greatest value with little negative impact on the environment.
Home Food Production – Teaching the benefits of home food production and developing skills and knowledge in growing food, managing community gardens, or contributing to food banks or kitchens.
Gardening with Youth – Increasing young people’s awareness and understanding of the value of horticulture and landscaping, using horticulture as a tool to increase responsibility and leadership for youth, and teaching individuals and professionals (i.e., teachers and therapists) how to use horticulture to reach young people.
Value of Landscapes – Developing within communities the knowledge and skill to ensure proper design, installation, and maintenance of sustainable landscapes for economic benefit to residents, state and local government employees and agencies, and professionals in impacted fields, such as tourism and real-estate development.
Health Benefits of Gardening – Teaching the value of the interior and exterior landscape for human health, well-being, and quality of life, transferring knowledge and skills to intended audiences so that they might utilize this information for personal health and a healthier workplace and community.
In 2016, 2,825 active GA MGEVs logged 191,654 volunteer service hours equating to $4,515,368 given back to communities around the state of Georgia.
The idea of Master Gardener volunteer training began on the West Coast more than 40 years ago. Overwhelmed by requests for gardening information, Extension agents from Washington State University 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 since traveled around the world. Through the Master Gardener program, thousands of people across the United States and Canada have been trained as volunteers. Similar programs now exist in the UK, Australia, and other countries.
In Georgia, the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is operated through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Our state Master Gardener Program was started in Atlanta in 1979. Today, Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers are active in many counties throughout the state.