Who We Are
WHO WE ARE
Master Gardeners are members of communities who are trained by Cooperative Extension experts in different aspects of plant science. In exchange for instruction, persons who become Master Gardeners volunteer through their local Cooperative Extension office to extend information to their community. Volunteers are supervised and guided by UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisors. The primary role of the Master Gardener is to be an educator. Each MG is expected to teach, write, and present information to the general public.
The mission of the Master Gardener program is to provide research-based information for gardening practices and technologies of home horticulture, integrated pest management (IPM), and environmental resource conservation. Master Gardeners answer questions, conduct demonstrations, diagnose plant/pest problems, and provide this horticultural assistance by telephone, newspaper, public speaking, and public contact.
Most information used by Master Gardeners is developed through research by UC professors, specialists, and farm advisors. The University system has nine campuses, nine field research stations, and 64 county Cooperative Extension offices throughout California.
Cooperative Extension has been helping people solve their agricultural problems since 1913. Extension agents/farm advisors supervised "Victory gardens" during World War I and II and have helped home and community gardeners ever since. Eventually, a voluntary educational program was initiated to teach gardening to people who would then extend the information to others in the community.
The first Master Gardener program was started in 1972 in Washington State. Since then, Master Gardener programs have spread to over 45 states and four Canadian provinces, and boasts of more than 45,000 volunteers.
In California, Sacramento and Riverside began pilot programs in 1980. Many of those original graduates are still active today in the program. As of January 2000, California had 31 active county programs providing more than 130,000 one-on-one contacts each year. Master Gardeners have become a significant resource of gardening information and are official "formal volunteers" of the University of California Cooperative Extension.
TRAINING IN TULARE/KINGS COUNTIES
Classes are taught by UCCE farm advisors and specialists. The program offers a basic, practical course in plant science and horticulture. Classes include:
- Introduction to horticulture
- Soil and plant nutrition
- Pest identification and control
- Plant management practices
- Diagnosis of plant problems
UCCE of Tulare-Kings Counties offers a 17-week training program approximately every two years.
To become a certified Master Gardener one must participate in the training program and pass a certifying exam. To remain certified there are annual educational and volunteer requirements.
Classes are taught by Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists, faculty from the University campuses and Experiment Stations, community college and state university faculty, other experts from industry, and Master Gardeners.
WHO BECOMES A MASTER GARDENER?
Master Gardeners share a number of qualities. They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and help others, and able to communicate with diverse groups of people. Experience and background in gardening are pre-requisites.
The Master Gardener program offers opportunities for continual growth and sharing with other Master Gardeners, while contributing to the community. Not everyone who applies becomes a Master Gardener; quite simply, there are not enough slots available for every applicant.
YOUR COMMITTMENT & VOLUNTEER WORK
In exchange for training, you will be expected to volunteer your time to the Tulare-Kings Counties Master Gardener program. You will be supported and encouraged by a local advisor and/or program coordinator. Master Gardeners answer telephone requests for information related to gardening and plants, staff plant clinics and information booths, provide talks and demonstrations, and contribute to newspaper articles.
The program offers a variety of activities to meet your volunteer commitment, some of which may be specifically directed. For example the Master Gardener office is open during certain business hours and all Master Gardeners are expected to contribute in this activity. Many of our community activities occur on Saturdays.
IS MASTER GARDENING FOR YOU?
To help you decide if you should apply for Master Gardener training, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to learn more about plants, growing things, and gardening?
- Am I eager to participate in a practical and intensive training program?
- Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge and educating people in my community?
- Do I have enough time to attend the training and to volunteer for several years in the future?
If you answered yes to these questions, the Master Gardening Program could be for you. The desire and ability to fulfill the volunteer commitment for several years is a major criteria in the selection of a potential volunteer.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Master Gardener information is available from your local Cooperative Extension office. Please visit or call to have your name added to the waiting list, so you can receive an application in the mail prior to the start of a new training session.
4437 S. Laspina St. Ste. B
Tulare, CA 93274-9539
(559) 684-3325 & (559) 684-3326
680 N. Campus Dr.
Hanford, CA 93230