In 1971, two Washington State Extension Agents, David Gibby and Bill Scheer, seeing the high demand for home landscape information, explored the novel concept of recruiting and training volunteers to meet this need. The initial response was tremendous and so began a now national Extension program that educates volunteer-minded people.
The Alabama Master Gardener program started when a Master Gardener from New York, Mary Lou McNabb, shared her love of the program with Madison County Extension Agent Gary Murray. Along with a couple of Extension Specialists, they organized the first Alabama Master Gardener training series in Huntsville.
Since 1981, Master Gardeners have partnered with ACES and various community groups, hosted displays and information booths at county fairs, assisted botanical gardens with numerous efforts, worked with historic properties, implemented civic beautification projects, partnered with local schools, donated of tons of fresh produce to charity, supported scholarships in secondary education, and much more.
The 2013 Alabama Master Gardener training classes were offered in 22 locations; training 435 new participants from 36 counties. A total of 209,974 volunteers (veteran and intern) reported volunteer hours in 2013.
The total time volunteered in 2013 equaled a dollar value of $3,779,532
Master Gardener Interns gain new knowledge from the high quality training classes we offer and the classes are the first step in gaining their support of our mission.
Master Gardeners were asked what they might do as a result of participating in the training program.
- 78% will use a soil test to avoid over-fertilizing their yard.
- 79% will use their knowledge of pest life cycles to optimize pest management techniques.