Master Gardener Activities
At least initially, most Master Gardener activities center aroundthe Extension Service office. The first 20 volunteer service hours are spent there. This is in fact a continuation of the training so the new volunteers can become familiar with the office, its personnel and resources, and so the Extension Service faculty and staff can become familiar with their new volunteer assistants. The remaining service hours are spent in a wide variety of activities, which are related to some aspect of gardening and contribute to community education and service. Many Master Gardeners continue their association with the office by answering telephones during Plant Clinic hours, mailing out brochures in response to requests, developing demonstration gardens, or working with 4-H leaders and youth of Collier County. Master Gardeners can also participate in the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program as Yard Advisors.
Other activities include, but are not limited to, plant clinics in other areas of the county, manning information booths at fairs and shows, and preparing informational brochures. There is something for almost every skill at every level. Many Master Gardeners far surpass the mandatory 75 volunteer service hours, with some volunteering several hundred hours in a year.
Training never ceases for the certified and working Master Gardener. Programming and field visits are scheduled for Master Gardeners to boost their horticultural understanding. Specialized knowledge is gained to better enable the Master Gardener to give expert advice. Outings are also used for planning and exchanging information on various projects.
Once a year the University of Florida conducts “post graduate” Master Gardener training at the State Master Gardener Conference. This is a voluntary, two-three day conference that Master Gardeners attend to receive training and meet other Master Gardeners from throughout the state.