Who are Texas Master Gardeners?
Master Gardeners are members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens. They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and to help others, and able to communicate with diverse groups of people.
What really sets Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture. In exchange for their training, Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through the local Extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their community.
History of the Texas Master Gardeners
When the term “Master Gardener” was first coined in the early 1970s to describe a new Extension program in Washington State, few could have predicted it would spread into Texas and blossom into one of the most effective volunteer organizations in the State. The annual reports, history, and management guide chronicles the development, activities and impact of the Texas Master Gardener program, now known to be the largest in the nation. Learn more Texas Master Gardener history here: Texas Master Gardener History
Is the Master Gardner Program for Me?
Ask yourself these questions to help you decide if you should apply to be a Master Gardner:
- 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 required volunteer service?
If you answered yes to these questions, the Master Gardener program could be for you. Contact the Taylor County Extension Office to learn more about the 2017 class. This year’s application is now available by calling 325-672-6048 or by download from this link: 2017 Big Country Master Gardener Application (Printable PDF)
Training – what to expect.
If accepted into the Master Gardener program, you will attend a Master Gardener training course. Classes are taught by Texas AgriLife Extension specialists, agents, and local experts.
The program offers a minimum of 50 hours of instruction that covers topics including lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease, and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production’ garden flowers’ and water conservation. The training is offered in the Winter/Spring here in Taylor County.
In exchange for training, you are asked to volunteer time to the Big Country Master Gardener program. At least 50 hours of volunteer service within one year following the training is required to earn the title of “Texas Master Gardener.”
The type of Service done by Master Gardeners varies according to community needs, and the abilities and interests of the Master Gardeners. Here in Taylor County we answer telephone requests for information related to gardening, staff plant clinics and displays, speak to local groups and conduct workshops. We help establish community garden projects, work with 4-H youth through the Junior Master Gardener program, and assist our County Agency with news related to gardening.
Master Gardeners are representatives of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M System. In all volunteer work related to the program, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. The title “Texas Master Gardener” can be used by volunteers only when engaged in Extension-sponsored activities.
2012 Texas Master Gardener Outreach
In 2012, the Master Gardener program trained 1,136 new volunteers. This brings the total number of certified volunteers to 6,190. Master Gardeners contributed 490,601 volunteer service hours. This service equates to 245 full time employees which is a $9.8 million dollar impact on the state of Texas. Master Gardeners have historically reached citizens in their local communities with horticulture information. Master Gardeners Speakers Bureaus have become one of the greatest tools in which to disseminate best management practices for the home owner. There are 268 Texas Master Gardener demonstration gardens that showcase plant material that is best suited to the local area. And if one of these above mentioned methods has not provided an opportunity to educate the public, there are also 52 Master Gardener websites where the public can learn of local gardening practices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Master Gardener volunteers are passionate about their work and their dedication shows through their loyal service. It is due to their great achievements that this program continues to be an excellent resource for citizens in Texas.
Participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed the training course and fulfilled their volunteer commitment.
For More Information
Applications and additional information are available from:Taylor County Extension Office Online Application 1982 Lytle Way Abilene, TX 79602 325-672-6048