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Master Gardener Program

The Master  Gardener Program began in Washington State in 1972. Dr. David Gibby, an  extension agent for horticulture created the program in response to the  overwhelming number of requests for gardening information. Volunteers  were trained in horticulture to provide gardening information to the  public.

Master Gardener programs now operate in forty five states and four provinces in Canada. In 1987, interest was great enough  to support the first national Master Gardener Conference in Washington, D.C. A second national conference was held in  Portland Oregon, in 1989. And in 1991, Master Gardeners from Ontario and Michigan hosted the first international Master  Gardener Conference in Detroit. Other conferences were held in San Antonio in 1993 and Saskatoon in 1995.

The  Master Gardener Program provides gardeners with intensive education in  home horticultural principles. Participants who complete the program  are certified as Master Gardeners by the Florida Cooperative Extension  Service.

Working  with the Extension Agent, Master Gardeners provide volunteer leadership  and service to their community in gardening activities. Master  Gardeners work with the Extension program and have the opportunity to  participate in organized volunteer activities. This service consists of  such things as answering gardening questions, conducting plant clinics,  beautifying the community, and other activities designed to increase  the availability of horticultural information and improve the quality  of horticultural projects.

In  Florida, where the program began in 1979, there are now over 35  counties with active Master Gardeners. The Master Gardeners are a part  of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Florida.

The  Master Gardener Program is open to all people regardless of  socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion or national origin.  After receiving intensive horticultural training and satisfactorily  meeting other program requirements, Master Gardeners are required to  provide a number of hours in volunteer service and continued training.  Continued training is available at the state and county levels.