Insight Into Being a Texas Master Gardener




The Texas Master Gardener program in cooperation with Texas A&M and Texas AgriLife Extension was designed to increase the availability of horticultural information to home gardeners.  Being trained by experts in the university system on a variety of crucial topics such as:


  • Botany, Soils and Fertilization
  • Entomology (concerning pests, beneficial insects and how to recognize damage and advise treatment solutions and prevention measures)
  • Plant Diseases (turfgrass, trees & shrubs, vegetables & fruit, flowers etc)
  • Vegetable Gardening (regular and organic)
  • Environmental Landscaping
  • Plant Propagation
  • Earthkind© Principles, Soils and Roses
  • Tree, shrub and plant selection and care
  • Water conservation  - rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, and more
  • Growing Fruits, Nuts & Berries
  • Turfgrass selection and management
We are taken  through an intense course over 11 weeks here and are required to pass an examination at the end and volunteer for 50 hours over the first year. ** Some counties require additional things/hours. After the first year is completed you then are a certified Texas Master Gardener. To keep your certification a certain amount of volunteer hours and training are required each year. Its very easy to find yourself with several hundred hours in a year with not a lot of effort. Time really flies with the variety of options that are available.

A few key items we are held closely to is:

  • Information given out HAS to be research based. No home remedy solutions, herbs medicinal qualities, some types of organic practices, moon phases effect on gardening etc.
  • We teach and advise. Oftentimes we get requests to come work on projects. The problem is there is just not enough time and we are not paid. We will be happy to pass along information to help.
Some things we are not:

  • Experts on everything. We have Master Gardeners who take training to be Specialists. A few of them are:
  1. Vegetable Specialist
  2. Propagation Specialist
  3. Rainwater Harvesting Specialist
  4. Entomology Specialist
  5. Junior Master Gardener Specialist
  6. Composting Specialist
  7. Oak Wilt Specialist
  8. Greenhouse Specialist
All of these trained people are called on for certain questions and also they provide training on a higher level to fellow Master Gardeners.

Outside of that, we have Master Gardeners who are better at some things than others. I immediately know who to go to if I have a question on herbs, for example. That person may not know much about perennials though. Its just how we all work together.

The Master Gardener program in our county (HUNT) is considered a smaller one compared to counties like Dallas. We still are able to donate around 5000 volunteer hours to our county per year. This is a HUGE savings to our community and state as a whole. We have volunteered by taking calls at our Extension office, made house calls to help diagnose problems and traveled to give presentations to groups. We also can be found teaching school children through JMG at several local schools, churches, and area groups. We also maintain a demonstration garden with plants that are recommended for our area. We are happy to answer questions to those who ask.

Its great fun and I am constantly learning something new from our group. We share plants and seeds among each other regularly which makes for a wide variety of plants for everyone. We do all of this as a not-for-profit organization that does all of their own fundraising to pay for many of the programs we offer.

I may not know everything about certain types of gardening, but I'm trained to know how to find it. If I don't know, then I pass along my questions to the experts who do. Gardening and everything that goes along with it a lifelong pursuit of learning. That's what keeps it interesting and keeps us growing!


6 comments:

  1. Awesome! I've seen the Master Gardeners at work at Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton, NY cleaning up after a massive flood in 2006 that had the gardens (and enough of our area) under water. But I had no idea just how extensive the training was.(I'll have to see the training the NY program involves just out of curiosity.) Thank you for this look into Master Gardening.

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  2. How neat! Friends of ours at church became Master Gardeners after retirement and are busier than ever. It's a splendid program & benefits so many folks.

    They re-landscaped the church flowerbeds w/ regionally "good" perennials & re-bloomers, and they consult for the community veg garden that was formerly the church's sand volleyball court.

    Keep up the good work and keep spreading around the plant-love!

    **Katy M
    Recommending YA books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.blogspot.com
    Follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove

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  3. Melissa,

    You should submit this to the newspaper committee to be published in the paper. It is very well written.

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  4. Hi Melissa,

    I hope you're having an awesome week! I thought you might like this infographic I helped build about the health, mental, and financial benefits of gardening (http://blog.lochnesswatergardens.com/how-gardening-benefit/).

    If you think your readers would like it too, please feel free to use it on the Gardening-4-Life blog. There's code at the bottom of our post that makes it super easy to post on your blog. It's all free (of course). If you have any questions about posting it, let me know and I'll try to help.

    I don't know where else to contact you so I just put a comment here. :)

    Thanks!

    ~ Janey
    janealvarado83@gmail.com

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  5. Wow! Indeed a post worth reading for!

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  6. On January 9,2013, my 4th blogaversary, I was awarded the Liebster Award by a fellow blogger. I am passing on this honer to you for having such a wonderful blog. Read more about here http://tammyinwv.blogspot.com/2013/01/i-have-my-first-blog-award.html

    ReplyDelete

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