Do you like the feel of the earth between your fingers, the fragrance of growing flowers, the taste of homegrown tomatoes and herbs? Do you want to share your interest in gardening with others? Become a Master Gardener! The Master Gardener Program is a volunteer development program offered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and is designed to increase the availability of horticultural information and improve the quality of life through horticultural projects in your community.
What is a Master Gardener?
The Texas Master Gardener program is an educational volunteer program conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of the Texas A&M University System. Master Gardeners are members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flower and vegetable gardens.
They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and 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, persons who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their county’s Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their communities.
Is the Master Gardener program for me?
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 participant in a practical and intense training program?
• Do I enjoy sharing your knowledge with people?
• Do I have enough time to attend training and complete volunteer service hour requirements?
• Do I have special interests that could benefit the community or an interest in developing one? (e.g., bird or butterfly knowledge, native gardens, wildflowers, etc.)
• Do I have a sincere interest in nature or gardening?
If accepted into the Master Gardener Program you will attend a training course which offers a minimum of 56 hours of instruction that covers topics including: lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insects, disease and weed management, soil and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening, home fruit production, garden flowers and herbs, plant propagation, and water conservation. These courses are taught by specialists in their specific areas. The cost for the course is $200 which covers the cost of speakers, study materials, and lunch each day.
The Master Gardener training course will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of February 2015, at the First United Methodist Church, 505 W. Marvin Street, Waxahachie.
In exchange for the training, participants are asked to volunteer at least 75 hours of service by November 30th to earn the title of “Texas Master Gardener”. The volunteer time will take place during the normal work week with the exception of the Annual Lawn & Garden Expo which is held on a Saturday in the spring.
The type of service done by Master Gardeners varies according to community needs and the abilities and interests of the Master Gardener. Some Master Gardeners answer telephone requests for information related to gardening. Others staff plant clinics or displays in shopping malls, farmers’ markets, or community centers.
Master Gardeners may speak to local groups and conduct workshops. They may help establish school and community garden projects, work with 4-H youth, or assist their agent with news or radio releases related to gardening.
The Master Gardener Coordinator in the county Extension office decides how volunteer time can best be used.
Participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed the training course and fulfilled their volunteer commitment.
Note: Master Gardeners are representatives of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. In all volunteer work related to the program, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. The title “Texas Master Gardener” can be used by volunteers only when engaged in Extension-sponsored activities.
If you are interested in the Master Gardener Program and would like an application, please contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Ellis County at 972-825-5175, e-mail Ellisfirstname.lastname@example.org or find the application on the master gardener website, ECMGA.com. Applications will be mailed upon request and must be returned no later than Jan. 9, 2015, at which time you will be called to set up an interview.