FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the Master Gardener Program?
Master Gardeners are volunteers trained and certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension in the area of home gardening and horticulture. They extend the Information they learn and provide technical assistance to the community.
Why Did the Master Gardener Program Start?
The Cooperative Extension Service has been helping people solve their agricultural problems since 1914. Extension agents/advisors supervised Victory gardens during World War I and World War II and have helped community gardeners for many years. Today, Cooperative Extension, throughout the United States, helps both rural and city dwellers wanting information on gardening, landscaping, pest management and other plant related topics. The demand for useful information by home gardeners has skyrocketed in recent years. With the increased demand for information, a more effective way of providing information was required. A voluntary educational program that would teach people about plants and gardening, and they would then extend this knowledge to other people, seemed to be the best approach.
Who Started the Master Gardener Program?
In 1972, Washington State held the first Master Gardener training program Since then, Master Gardener programs have spread to over 25 states. California's program began in Sacramento and Riverside counties in 1979. The first classes graduated in the spring of 1980, and many of these initial graduates are still active in the program. Several other counties now have Master Gardener programs.
What Training Is Provided to the Master Gardeners?
The Master Gardeners are given a training program that offers a practical course in plant science and horticulture. Classes involve 56 hours of intensive classroom instruction in areas such as weeds, diseases, insects, soils, water, fertilizers, fruit and landscape trees, pesticides, vegetables and more.
Who Are the Instructors?
Classes are taught by experts in their fields. They include Cooperative Extension Advisors and Specialist and faculty from the University of California at Riverside, Berkeley and Davis and local community colleges. Other knowledgeable resource people are often used.
Who Becomes a Master Gardener?
Master Gardeners are people from all walks of life; including business and professional people, educators, retired citizens, homemakers, students. In essence, local residents of all ages and backgrounds with some degree of experience or knowledge of plants and gardening. They must posses enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and help others, and the ability to communicate with diverse groups of people.
What is the Master Gardener's commitment to the Program?
After completing the training and passing a written exam, the newly certified Master Gardener is required to complete 50 hours of volunteer service to the Cooperative Extension in one year's time. An additional 12 hours of continuing education is also required. The desire and ability to fulfill the volunteer commitment is a major criteria in the selection of a potential Master Gardener.
What Type of Volunteer Work Does a Master Gardener Do?
There are many ways the Master Gardeners extend the information they have learned. Master Gardeners answer questions, diagnose plant problems and give horticultural assistance by telephone, at plant clinics, demonstrations, talks and through mass media on vegetable gardening, trees, soils, lawns, diseases, insects and related topics. Master Gardeners also work on special community horticulture and gardening projects.
Where Can One Obtain Information from a Master Gardener?
Call the Sacramento County Cooperative Extension office and Master Gardeners will answer requests for information related to gardening and plants. Samples of insects, weeds and diseased plants may also be brought to the office for diagnosis. Check the "California Life" section of the Sacramento Bee or this sitefor scheduled plant clinics and workshops at libraries, neighborhood parks, shopping centers, nurseries and garden centers. Master Gardeners are available to give talks on various horticultural topics before local garden clubs, senior citizen groups, elementary school children, community gardens and other community or church organizations.