Who Are We?
The Master Gardener program in Georgia is a volunteer training program designed to help University of Georgia Cooperative Extension staff transfer research-based information about gardening and related subjects to the public by training home gardeners. Master Gardener Extension Volunteers are active in many Georgia counties. Through this program, Cooperative Extension is able to reach out and serve more citizens with educational programming and demonstrations that target environmental stewardship, home food production, gardening with youth, value of landscapes, and health benefits of gardening.
What Do We Do?
Through this program, individuals are trained in horticulture and related areas. These individuals volunteer their expertise, under the direction of our Cooperative Extension staff, to help educate others through Extension-approved horticultural programs and projects that benefit our community. Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers bring the latest horticultural information and practices from the world of research to our community’s landscapes and gardens. Here in Houston County, MGEVs do this through plant clinics at area festivals, Robins AFB Exchange, and retail outlets. They also reach the community through their Teaching Garden at Hafley Park in Perry, producing food for the EFNEP clients and teaching classes for the homeowner. Site visits, gardening talks to local civic and garden clubs, a bi-monthly gardening newsletter, and Junior Master Gardener groups in 17 locations also expand the reach of Extension.
How Can You Become a Master Gardener?
To prepare you for your volunteer role, Extension offers 40+ hours of basic horticulture training that must be completed prior to volunteering. The training covers topics ranging from soil and plant nutrition, landscape design, plant propagation and turf to different programs such as nuisance wildlife control. Participants take a mid-term exam and will be required to pass a final exam on the material covered. Houston County joins with seven other counties to offer a Training Class annually that usually begins in early February and runs through the end of April. The application process begins in the Fall, usually late October. Once the application packet is submitted with all paperwork complete, an interview schedule will be arranged with all applicants. Final notification of acceptance into the program will be made by mid-January. The fee for the class varies, but usually falls between $180-$200 and is due upon acceptance into the program. This fee covers the textbooks and other printed materials, speakers, some meals, and incidental expenses. Again, the intent of the program is to train volunteers in subjects that will prepare them to assist our local county Extension Staff.
What Can You Do Through This Program?
Master Gardener Extension Volunteers are very active. They work in area gardens, continue their horticulture education by taking advanced classes, and even help Agents in their farm and fruit trials. You will also find them giving talks to civic and garden clubs, working with youth in after-school gardening programs, and leading adult workshops in a variety of gardening exercises.
MGEVs enjoy networking, social, and continuing education opportunities. Often, local organizations form to connect MGEVs and provide further support to Extension. Membership or participation in these organizations is voluntary.
Master Gardener Extension Volunteers in Houston County are often members of larger groups. Master Gardeners of Central Georgia (MGCG) is a seven-county 501(c)3 organization that is very involved in the communities in the Middle Georgia area. They support the mission of Extension through their activities, award scholarships and grants from their fund-raising efforts, and generally seek to improve the quality of life for area residents. You can read more about their activities on their web page: mgcg.org
The Georgia Master Gardener Association, Inc. is an independent non-profit association of Master Gardeners in Georgia. Member benefits includeThe Scoop newsletter and annual conferences which provide horticultural enrichment and continuing education, networking opportunities, and project funding for volunteers' educational gardening projects in communities throughout the state. More information on this group's activities can be found at georgiamastergardeners.org
For More Information
Visit the webpage of the State Program Office: gamastergardener.org
Keep up with current News and Events by visiting http://www.caes.uga.edu/departments/hort/extension/mastergardener/news.html
To be placed on the prospective training list to become an MGEV, please email your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be placed on a mailing list to receive an application packet in late October when the process is opened.