Texas Master Gardeners are arguably the most recognized and effective corps of volunteers serving Texas citizens. Along with their Extension agent and specialist colleagues, Master Gardeners are committed to providing high-quality educational programs in horticulture and the environment in Texas communities and neighborhoods. Over 4,450 Master Gardeners provided 227,162 hours of service in 1999. Equivalent to 109 full-time employees, this volunteer service provided a $3.1 million benefit to the State of Texas.
Love of gardening and desire to enhance knowledge are catalysts by which Texans from every walk of life enter the Master Gardener program. In 1999, 1,336 volunteers received training in horticulture and leadership through the Master Gardener program. These Master Gardener ‘interns’ complete at least 50 hours of training, and have one year to complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service to become a certified Texas Master Gardener.
Responding to telephone inquiries is a mainstay of Master Gardener work. Well-trained Master Gardeners answer the majority of home landscape and garden calls in urban Texas. In 1999, Master Gardeners answered 112,355 telephone calls.
Master Gardeners also use the Internet to extend information delivery and problem solving. Master Gardener programs have their own web pages, and assist in answering thousands of home gardening questions via the Internet each year.
Speakers’ bureaus are provided by most Master Gardener programs. A significant outreach by Extension, these public presentations deliver research-based information to garden clubs, civic clubs, and other community organizations. In 1999, Master Gardeners made 1,258 presentations to over 43,489 people.
Master Gardeners continue a significant commitment to preparing youth for the future by using the garden as a classroom. Teaching academics, leadership, and life skills via gardening, Master Gardeners provided coordination and expertise to 583 School Gardens in 1999. Some 145,281 students (45 percent ethnic minorities) were exposed to the wonders of gardening and the environment.
Master Gardeners logged 32,180 hours of service under program administration and leadership. These numbers indicate the program continues to mature as Master Gardeners administer their own programs, further assisting the county Extension agent.
Master Gardeners are recertified every two years by fulfilling 12 hours of training and 12 hours of volunteer service. In 1999, 2,032 individuals retained their title of Master Gardener through recertification. These Master Gardeners have participated in the program at least three years beyond their initial certification training, suggesting a significant return on Extension’s investment in training Master Gardeners.
The Master Gardener program substantially enhances the capability of Extension programs across the state to meet local educational needs. Master Gardeners provide leadership and support to educational programs targeted at critical issues, including youth development, environmental stewardship, water conservation, and leadership development.
Texas now has 64 county Master Gardeners, including the first collegiate program in the nation, the Aggie Master Gardeners at Texas A&M University. Through the lasting dedication of Master Gardeners, Extension has multiplied its efforts and continues to expand educational programs to new audiences across the state.
|1999 Texas Master Gardener Activities|
Master Gardeners contributed over $14.7 million
of service to Texas in the past ten years
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