Would you like to be a Master Gardener?

When I left my teaching job at Pioneer Vocational High School in Shelby, Ohio, in September 1970, to become Dallas County Extension Horticulturist, I soon knew how it felt to be overwhelmed. The Master Gardener Program hadn’t begun yet, but in retrospect, I would have loved to have worked alongside some of these folks.

Collin County Master Gardeners Association maintains this demonstration garden. Click image for larger view.

Perhaps you’ve been wondering if being a Master Gardener might be a good match for you, so I thought I’d give it a bit of a pitch here so you could think it over.

“Master Gardeners” earn that title by completing a comprehensive training program coordinated through their local county offices of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. You may still use the term “the county agent’s office.”

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Not every county in Texas offers Master Gardener training, but many do. The larger the county, the more likely it is that they do. Here is an active link to a list of all the County AgriLife offices https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/counties/. Call the one in your county and ask for details.

Most commonly, you will get 50 hours of in-depth training on all the important subjects in horticulture. You’ll be taught by respected leaders in each of the fields. They will be in classroom settings on a regular schedule and they will be held in your county.

Master Gardeners from Collin County work to build raised bed gardens at Caldwell Elementary School in McKinney. Click image for larger view.

After you have successfully completed the training you will be granted the designation of Master Gardener, and you will be granted permission to use that title whenever you work in support of activities of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Carrots never tasted as sweet as when they’re dug right out of your very own garden. Collin County Master Gardeners helped this youngster succeed at Caldwell Elementary in McKinney! Click image for larger view.

The list of possible volunteer opportunities is virtually endless, but if would include:
• Office assistant (answering phones, editing publications, etc.) in your county’s office;

Members of Collin County Master Gardeners Association grew these flowers in one of their demonstration pollinator gardens, then used them on the group’s website. Click image for larger view.

• Assisting in research studies for your county Extension personnel;
• Assisting with or giving talks in the name of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulture;
• Mentoring in classrooms, scout groups, etc., about horticulture;
• Organizing or participating in civic beautification projects;
• And so, on and on.

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The Master Gardener program in Texas is very strong. Members make lasting friendships. Further, they meet others with similar interests at the state conventions, and Texas is better for all of their efforts.

If this sounds like it might fit onto your dance card, inquire today. This could be your year to head back to school.

Lynn and I were surprised and honored…
My wife and I live in McKinney. We were recently honored to be granted Lifetime Membership status in the Collin County Master Gardeners Association. I’ve borrowed photos from their lovely website to show you examples of what one county has done. We are proud to call ourselves members! You can help your county achieve similar things. Here is their website https://ccmgatx.org

Posted by Neil Sperry
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