The number one leisure activity in the United States is gardening and the number one volunteer gardening program in the United States is the Master Gardener program.
In El Paso, approximately 25 volunteer gardeners are selected each year and trained extensively. All volunteers chosen to participate in the Master Gardener program are required to serve a minimum of 60 hours of community service under the direction of a County Extension Agent. The Master Gardener program is not a gardening class per se–it is more akin to a docent-training program and the selection process for inclusion is based on the ability and the willingness of the applicant to share with the community what they have learned. Each county Master Gardener program has different volunteer opportunities. During the intern year (first year after class) in El Paso, 20 hours are allocated to answering horticulture questions on the Master Gardener hotline, 20 hours worked at the xeriscape, vegetable and orchard demonstration gardens at the Texas AgriLife Research Center, 10 hours worked at the Memorial Rose Garden, and 10 hours may be spent on any other currently approved Master Gardener project.
The course is held only once per year, usually from August through November. Classes are taught on Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Topics include: landscape design, plant and soil science, plant propagation, native plants, tree care and maintenance, insect management, and diagnosing plant diseases. Classes are taught by Texas A&M University personnel and various community experts. A $165.00 fee, ($220.00 for commercial applicants) payable on the first day of classes, covers all course materials and handbook. A portion of this fee is used to perform a criminal background check on all course participants.
To be placed on the list to be notified about the next Master Gardener program, please send an email to: email@example.com or call the Extension Office: (915) 860-2515.