Master Gardener Info
Started by Washington State University Extension, the Master Gardener Program began in Seattle, Washington in 1973, and since then has spread to all 50 states. The West Virginia Master Gardener Program started in 1993. As a result of continuing interest and leadership, Master Gardeners are now active in almost all of West Virginia’s 55 counties. There are over 1,000 active Master Gardeners in West Virginia.
Volunteers are trained in classes and activities provided by the West Virginia University Extension Service and Extension Agents.
Master Gardeners receive a minimum of 40 hours of instruction in plant science, plant propagation, soil science, plant pathology, entomology, communication skills, and integrated pest management. These subjects give the Master Gardener trainee the basic horticultural knowledge necessary to assist extension staff effectively. Specific gardening topics like pruning techniques, composting, house plants, vegetable culture, herbs, tree and small fruit culture, lawns and landscape design allow the Master Gardener to specialize in an area of particular personal interest.
After successfully completing the Master Gardener training program, each volunteer receives a Master Gardener Intern certificate. To fulfill their volunteer commitment, West Virginia Master Gardener Interns may do service projects such as:
- participate in community garden educational programs
- answer gardening questions
- assist county extension office staff
- conduct garden tours
- conduct school gardening programs
- coordinate Master Gardener programs
- conduct plant clinics
- garden with the elderly and disabled
- photograph Master Gardener activities
- plan and complete community beautification projects
- present lectures or demonstrations to groups interested in horticulture
- staff county and state exhibits
- work on special events
After an intern has satisfactorily completed the formal training and 40 hours of volunteer service, he or she then receives an official Master Gardener certificate and name badge.
To maintain the title of “Certified Master Gardener,” a volunteer is required to:
- attend a minimum of ten hours of update (advanced) training per year
- serve a minimum of twenty hours’ volunteer time per year (recertification)
Note: The Master Gardener designation becomes void when an individual ceases active participation in an organized program.
West Virginia Master Gardener AssociationThe West Virginia Master Gardener Association (WVMGA) was incorporated in 2000. Its board of directors is comprised of representatives from many of the county programs. The state board meets quarterly to address statewide program issues and is responsible for organizing the annual conference. The location of the annual conference varies from year to year with an effort to accommodate Master Gardeners around the state.
During the state conference, individuals and groups from throughout the state are awarded for their Master Gardener activities. Recognition is given to several county Master Gardeners and a State Master Gardener of the Year. Silent and live auctions of donated items provide funds for scholarships to WVU students majoring in horticulture.
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