Story in Brief
The Georgia Master Gardener Program, continuously active for 41 years under the direction of UGA Extension in more than 60 counties across the state, continues to train volunteers to assist agents in Extension educational program delivery. Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs) augment the County Extension Agents' efforts to help fulfill the mission of Extension of providing quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to local citizens. In 2019, 25 counties recruited and trained 324 new volunteers to assist Cooperative Extension in educational delivery. More than 2,300 MGEVs returned 179,788 volunteer hours at a value of $4,340,082 to the University of Georgia and their communities. This is roughly equivalent to 86 full-time staff. As a result of educational activities offered by MGEVs, Georgians are able to make environmentally sound gardening decisions. Because MGEVs work with Georgians to answer questions and solve problems, insects and diseases can be treated with appropriate controls, plant choices can be made to enhance landscapes and property values, individuals can grow their own fruits and vegetables, and youth gain exposure to the joy and wonder of gardening. As a result of MGEV efforts, agents are able to devote time to developing targeted educational programs that address local issues and needs. MGEVs ultimately help Extension achieve its mission of helping Georgians become healthier, more productive, financially independent and environmentally responsible.