How did the MG program get started?

 
The first Master Gardener program began in Washington State in 1972. The Extension agent for horticulture in those counties was overwhelmed by the volume of requests coming into his office for information about home gardening and horticulture. He came up with the idea of trading specialized training in horticulture for a commitment to spend a specified number of hours doing volunteer outreach work. He sought and obtained the help of Extension agents, specialists, and administrators at the state university in planning and testing both a training program for volunteers and a format for plant clinics that would provide accurate and helpful information to the public. The program quickly spread to every state and several foreign countries.
 

How do I get started?

To participate in Master Gardener training, you must register at the County Extension office offering the program. If you are selected for the Master Gardener program, you will receive 50 hours of classroom horticultural training. You will learn about plant growth, insect and disease control, vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees, shrubs, soils, and environmental issues. The learning then continues during a volunteer internship of an additional 50 hours. Upon completion of the internship you will be certified as an Alabama Master Gardener.

When are classes held?

Alabama Master Gardener training is coordinated and conducted by Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Typically two classes are held per year, January-April and August-November. Because of the shorter days and cooler temps, the January-April class is usually a daytime class, 9:00am – 1:00pm. The summer heat makes it more comfortable to have the August-November class in the evening, 5:00pm – 9:00pm. Classroom training consists of an orientation and 12 weekly classes. A detailed schedule and syllabus are passed out at the orientation.

What do I have to do to become a Certified Master Gardener?

The primary responsibility of Master Gardeners is to answer questions from area residents about home horticulture, and to recommend environmentally sound solutions to gardening and landscape problems. County Extension Agents and Master Gardeners are available to help and advise as needed. To become certified, you must complete the minimum 50 hours of training and complete at least 50 hours of volunteer service within one year of training. At the completion of all the requirements, you receive an official Master Gardener certificate and name badge.

What are some volunteer activities I might do to complete my requirements?

There are lots of options! Here are some examples, but you’re certainly not limited to these. There are numerous other activities in which to participate, and volunteers may initiate their own approved project.

  1. Assist clientele that come into the Extension office for information.
  2. Respond to telephone calls from homeowners.
  3. Participate in design and operation of horticultural exhibits, displays or demonstrations.
  4. Staff your local Extension office horticulture hotline.
  5. Write an article for your Master Gardener newsletter.
  6. Give a talk at a Master Gardener program on a horticultural topic you know well.
  7. Make presentations on horticultural topics to 4-H groups, youth organizations, youth clubs, etc.
  8. Participate and organize school activities such as Arbor Day, Earth Day and horticulture tours.
  9. Participate in an Arbor Day planting.
  10. Help plant a special display in a local park garden or other public area.
  11. Establish drop off sites for produce as part of a Plant-a Row-for-the-Hungry project.
  12. Assist the staff of a local garden, research station, church, or other site maintain annual and perennial beds.
  13. Help an environmental preservation group with its annual cleanup of public or private lands.
  14. Assist in senior gardening programs.

Current LCMGA projects

What kind of recognition will i get for my participation in the program?

Awards are given yearly to Master Gardeners who have given exceptional service to the program. The Alabama Master Gardener Association Awards Program provides for recognition pins, ribbons and certificates of achievement. The program can be reviewed at the AMG website. However, as with most volunteer programs the greatest recognition and satisfaction received will come from within.