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. Local County Extension Offices, in partnership with their state land-grant universities, administer each program.
In El Paso County, approximately 25 volunteer gardeners are selected each year and given intensive horticultural training. Classes are taught by Texas A&M University personnel and various community experts. However, the Master Gardener program is not a gardening class per se – it is more like 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. All volunteers chosen to participate in the Master Gardener program are required to serve a minimum number of community service hours as set forth in the annual Application letter to become a certified Texas Master Gardener. These volunteer hours are to be completed in the first year after training and are under the direction of the County Extension Agent. During this intern year in El Paso, required volunteer hours are allocated among these activities:
- Answering horticulture questions at the Master Gardener Help Desk
- Gardening at the xeriscape, vegetable and orchard demonstration gardens at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center and at the Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden
- Gardening tasks at the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden
- Volunteering on any other currently approved Master Gardener project, such as information tables at community events.
Maintenance of one’s status as a Texas Master Gardener requires yearly recertification by volunteering a standard number of hours and by taking a minimum number of continuing education classes.
To help you decide if you should apply to be a Master Gardener, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants?
- Am I eager to participate in a practical and intense training program?
- Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge with people in my community?
- Do I have enough time to attend training and to complete the volunteer service?
To become an El Paso County Master Gardener, please read and complete the form within the Application letter. Your application must be submitted by the August 17th deadline.
You can learn more about the El Paso County Master Gardener program and our history by reading these pages:
Volunteer Duties – Title and brief description of volunteer activities and requirements, organization description
Application – Summary of class schedule. Link to informative letter about the Master Gardener program and Application for the training course
History – History of the Texas Master Gardener program
For more information, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Extension Office at (915) 771-2354.