Texas Master Gardener Specialist Program
Purpose: To provide advanced training whereby a corps of Master Gardeners can obtain a specialization which supports or expands specific county educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
Guidelines: The primary purpose of a Specialist program is not to designate “experts” in a field of study or topic; rather, it is designed to identify Master Gardeners who have received special training to support specific county educational programs or projects. Specialist training should be designed to empower the Master Gardener with the knowledge and skills required to effectively support designate programs or projects. This may include administration of projects, training of Master Gardeners, clientele presentations, and/or applied research and demonstrations.
Basic Requirement: To be eligible for a Specialist designation, an individual must possess an up-to-date Master Gardener certification.
Training and Volunteer Requirements: Specialist training should be a minimum of 16 hours in length. Hours of training will depend on subject matter and level of expertise to be obtained. Training might include: formal classroom training, field trips and tours, mentoring by experts, and/or self-directed study. Following completion of the training requirement, an individual should complete a minimum 20 hours of volunteer service in a designated program or project to obtain this title of Master Gardener Specialist.
Reporting Volunteer Service: Upon completion of Specialist training, Master Gardeners are expected to be a local county resource and contribute volunteer service by training other Master Gardeners and the public. Master Gardener Specialists should document and report volunteer service hours to the Specialist training coordinator. These hours are used to gain Specialist certification and evaluate the effectiveness of the Specialist training effort. The training coordinator will keep a roster and records of all classes and report all qualifying specialist to the State Master Gardener Coordinator. Specialists will be given certificates at the State Master Gardener Conference.
Specialist Titles: Specialists titles should reflect the program or project in which the Master Gardener is being trained. Examples of existing or potential specialist titles include:
- Junior Master Gardener
- Earth-Kind Landscaping
- Irrigation Efficiency
- Plant Propagation
- Greenhouse Management
- Rainwater Harvesting
A Master Gardener successfully completing Specialist training would use the new designation as suggested in the following examples:
Rita Tiller, Master Gardener Specialist – Earth-Kind Landscaping
Herb Shmeler, Master Gardener Specialist – Junior Master Gardener
Authorization: With approval of the Texas Master Gardener Coordinator’s office, County Extension Agents and Extension Specialists have the authority to develop and implement Specialist programs as needed which adhere to these guidelines. While developing Specialist programs, counties are encouraged to communicate with the State Master Gardener Coordinator throughout the development of the program. Also, consideration should be given to potential expansion of such programs into other counties where applicable. Where appropriate, multi-county and regional collaboration is encouraged when training Specialists. Using the guidelines of this document, the County Master Gardener Coordinator has the sole authority to designate Specialists.
Specialist Program Components: Components of a Master Gardener Specialist program might include:
- Statement of goals, objective and activities
- Recognition items (i.e., lapel pin, certificate, wallet card, patched, badges,
- Position announcement(s) for volunteers
- Specialist application form
- Training curriculum
- Training resources/manual
- Specialist examination
- Volunteer hour log book
Clearinghouse: In addition to an advisory role, the office of the State Master Gardener Coordinator will serve as a clearinghouse for Master Gardener Specialist programs. Curricula, slide presentation and guidelines for Specialist programs should be sent to the State Coordinator’s office for archiving. Training Coordinator Responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the Specialist training coordinator to complete the proposed Master Gardener Specialist Program application form, prepare curriculum, establish volunteer components, keep rosters and report volunteer hours.
Form: Proposed Master Gardener Specialist Program
Extension agent/ Extension Specialist conducting training and contact information:
Description of the training requirements (draft agenda, extension and Master Gardener training personnel involved, field trips, activities):
Description of the volunteer requirements (projects, activities, services to be provided by trainees):
Description of the reporting system for volunteer service:
Description of the plan for continued communications with trainees/specialists:
Description of the funding and financial system to support training (what to charge for the training, how to bank the money and pay bills):
Description of skills to be obtained:
Description of training material to be provided/educational products that trainees will use:
Description of the evaluation plan to determine outcomes for this training (% knowledge gained, % intention to adopt practice, and economic impact):
Describe how to interpret to internal and external audiences (annual reports):
Describe how the use of specialist will be promoted:
How many volunteers will be trained per class and how many classes will be held
I understand as the coordinator for this specialist program, I am responsible for keeping a record of participants and their volunteer service and reporting this information to the state office prior to the state conference.
Signature of Specialist Coordinator Date