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Master Gardeners ~ Volunteers in Horticulture

Master Gardener Volunteer at a display boothFor the past several years, articles have been written by a Certified Master Gardener for local papers covering a variety of horticulture topics. Maybe over the years you have seen photos or articles of Dodge County Master Gardener Volunteers working on different projects throughout the community.

Ever wonder about these Master Gardeners and what they do?

The Master Gardener (MG) program started in 1972 in the state of Washington and is now in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is an all-volunteer organization with the main purpose of providing university and research based information to the public about a wide variety of horticulture topics.

With rapid urban growth and a growing interest in gardening, Cooperative Extension Service agents were overwhelmed with answering gardening questions from home gardeners. The Master Gardener program was created by David Gibby, a horticulture agent with the Washington State Cooperative Extension. His goal was to develop trained volunteers to assist extension agents in educating residents in the community on horticulture.

University of Wisconsin Extension logoThe Wisconsin MG program is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Extension (UWEX).

In the late 1970’s, Dr. Helen Harrison and Dr. Bob Tomesh, professors with the University of Wisconsin, started the MG program here in Wisconsin. In 1992 local MG groups joined together to form the Wisconsin Master Gardner Association (WIMGA).

2013 Master Gardener Volunteer hours totalled 194,046 in 2013.

According to the WIMGA 2013 Annual Accomplishment report, Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) across the state volunteered 194,046 hours to the UW-Extension and their communities. MGVs provided educational Master Gardener and child at home show programs, assisted the UW-Extension with consumer horticulture questions, supported community gardens, taught children about gardening, participated in therapeutic horticulture projects, hosted plants sales, and enhanced public spaces.

Along with their volunteer hours, MGVs also participated in over 62,548 continuing education hours, actively learning and staying up to date on current horticulture topics and concerns. There are over 2,980 trained MGVs in Wisconsin who are certified/recertified for 2014.

Dodge County Master Gardener Association established in 2004.

Lisa Traughber worked with Jim Fanta, the Dodge County UW-Extension Crops and Soils Agent to form the Doge County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) in 2004. In 2006 the DCMGA joined the WIMGA. DCMGA holds monthly educational programs on the fourth Thursday of the month, January through October.

Programs cover a variety of horticulture topics, are held at the Administration Building at 127 East Oak Street in Juneau, and start at 630 p.m. These programs are free and open to the public. Some of the topics for 2014 include a tour review of Vancouver and Vancouver Island, growing wildflowers, shade gardening, mini greenhouses, and visiting an apple orchard. The DCMGA is working on a Fall Symposium for November 2014 with great speakers and interesting topics.

The DCMGA reported 2,459 volunteer hours and 861 continuing education hours for 2013. There will be 34 certified/recertified MGVs for 2014. Volunteers were involved with a variety of projects throughout the county. MGVs designed, planted and maintain an educational display garden and the Dodge County Administration Building, hosted an annual plant sale, answered questions at several events around the county, wrote articles for area newspapers, gave educational presentations to youth and adult organizations, worked with special needs groups, and so much more.

How to becme a Master Gardener Volunteer

The Dodge County UW-Extension will be sponsoring the Level 1 Master Gardener Volunteer Training, the first step to becoming a Certified Master Gardner. This is a 13-week program from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings beginning March 4, 2014. The training will feature a variety of UW-Wisconsin specialists and other guest speakers covering a wide range of horticulture topics each week.

To become a Certified Master Gardener Volunteer you should enjoy gardening, must be a Wisconsin resident, be 18 years of age or older, sign a Volunteer Agreement, complete the Level 1 Training, pass a final exam (take home/open book), and complete 24 hours of volunteer service within one year of training. Recertification requires 24 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education annually.

For more information on the Dodge County Master Gardener Association, their monthly programs, or Level 1 Training visit http://dodge.uwex.edu/master-gardener, or contact he Dodge County UW-Extension Office at 920-386-3790

The Master Gardener program is more than a horticulture class or a garden club. Master Gardener Volunteers are trained to assist UW-Extension in their mission of public education. Most MGVs belong to their local MG association which promotes the educational nature of the program.

Being a MGV is a rewarding experience. It’s an opportunity to share your love of gardening, apply your current knowledge and skills, meet new people, and continue to learn more about gardening and horticulture.

Christea Jacobs
Certified Master Gardener

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