The Texas Master Gardener Program is a volunteer development program offered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The volunteers are highly trained and provide proven, research-based educational programs to the citizens of Texas. In 2015, the Texas Master Gardener program grew to include over 7000 volunteers. This is the largest corps of Master Gardener volunteers in the nation. These volunteers assisted their local Extension offices by answering 23,226 phone calls. They presented 2,144 presentations that reached audiences of 88,601. Master Gardeners demonstrated appropriate plant selection and Earth-Kind® practices in over 278 gardens throughout the state. They reached youth through 460 gardens that focus on learning opportunities for children. Master Gardeners furthered their efforts by offering gardening information on 54 individual county websites.
In 2015, Texas trained 1,085 new volunteers. New and tenured volunteers provided the greatest number of educational hours in the history of the program this year. They provided 556,180 hours of educational service. These hours equate to 300 full time employees and an economic impact of $12 million dollars.
In addition to the education and service hours Master Gardeners are required to obtain to become a certified Texas Master Gardener, some members choose to do even more to further their knowledge. The Master Gardener Specialist Program offers advanced training, in which the volunteer gains an additional 16 hours of education and provides another 20 hours of service in a specific horticulture area. In 2015, 135 volunteers became certified in one or more of the following horticulture areas: Junior Master Gardener, Greenhouse Management, First Detector-Plant Pathology, Irrigation Efficiency, Entomology, Texas Superstar® Plants, Rainwater Harvesting, Home Fruit Production, Composting, Plant Propagation, Vegetables and Earth-Kind® Landscaping.
At the heart of the Master Gardener program is our volunteers. They are dedicated and passionate about all things gardening and are willing to share their knowledge with anyone interested in learning.