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Horticulture

Georgia Master Gardener
Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer?

Georgia residents may have the opportunity to become a Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer in their home county. Classes usually form either in the spring or fall. Interested volunteer candidates should contact their local county Cooperative Extension office to see if an active program exists and when the next class will be taught. It is possible to join another county's program if one does not already exist in your home county, though many programs are not able to accept all applicants due to lack of space in training classes. Preference is usually given to volunteers from the training county and if accepted from an outside county, volunteers will be expected to complete their volunteer obligation in the training county. Upon acceptance into the program, volunteers will be required to complete a 40 hour (usually once or twice a week) classroom training program that will cover topics ranging from landscape design, plant propagation and turf, to different programs such as nuisance wildlife control. Again, the intent of the program is to train volunteers in subjects that will prepare them to assist the local county Extension Staff. Participants take a mid-term exam and will be required to pass a final exam on the material covered. For more information, contact your local county Extension agent. To connect to the Cooperative Extension office in your county call 1-800-ask-uga1 or find your county office.

What do Master Gardeners do?

Master Gardeners are volunteer educators. Typical volunteer activities include: answering plant questions over the phone, in person or by e-mail; conducting environmental gardening demonstrations or presentations; staffing plant clinics; maintaining compost and gardening demonstration sites; writing for newsletters or newspapers; youth gardening activities; and other community gardening projects.

There's no Master Gardener Program in my county. How do I become a Georgia Master Gardener?

That's a question that gets asked often, even though we have programs in over 60% of the counties in Georgia. In some areas, programs haven't formed because of lack of need for volunteers or the focus of local issues/needs is not a fit for a Master Gardener program. Master Gardeners are recruited and trained to assist Extension with extending consumer horticulture information and education to the public. Extension Staff fill many roles and coordinating a Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program may not be possible due to demands on their time. In Georgia, County Extension offices are not required to have a Master Gardener Program. They are encouraged to train and retain Master Gardeners if they have a need for volunteers and the time to invest in a quality volunteer base.

I would like to get certified as a Master Gardener to get into the landscape business. How can I do this?

The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer (MGEV) Program is a volunteer training program to assist University of Georgia Cooperative Extension with its mission to bring information to the public. It's not intended to train or certify landscape professionals. There is, however, an excellent program known as the Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Program (GCLP). It is administered as a joint project of the Georgia Green Industry Association, the Georgia Turfgrass Association, the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association, and the University of Georgia. Other resources for landscape or green industry training are local technical schools and colleges. Technical College System of Georgia schools offer programs awarding degrees and/or diplomas in Environmental Horticulture. Ten public colleges in Georgia offer 2-4 year degrees and the University of Georgia also offers advanced degrees in horticulture. For more information, the Georgia Board of Regents web pages offer a search function.

Can I use the title "Master Gardener" in my business?

Georgia Master Gardeners may not use their title and/or position for commercial publicity or private business. Participating in a commercial activity, having association with commercial products, or giving implied University or Extension Service endorsements to any product or place of business is in violation of The University of Georgia policies. Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers may identify themselves as such only when doing unpaid public service work under the direction of County Extension Staff or in an Extension-approved activity. Violation of this policy will cause immediate withdrawal of all certification privileges.

The Master Gardener badge is the identification symbol for a well trained volunteer of Cooperative Extension and the University of Georgia. It may only be worn in a volunteer capacity. It is not to be worn at work or in any money-making capacity. Master Gardeners wear the badge when in the Extension office or when serving at a Master Gardener volunteer event.

Gratuitous payments for speaking or other activities on behalf of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension are strictly prohibited. However, Master Gardeners may accept contributions for their local Extension MG group or for the Georgia Master Gardener Association (GMGA).

When and where did the Master Gardener Program begin in Georgia?

The Georgia Master Gardener Program was started in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1979, as a means of extending the educational outreach of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Master Gardeners are an important resource in assisting Cooperative Extension agents with delivering educational horticultural programs and information. The Georgia Master Gardener Program is designed to develop highly skilled volunteers that agree to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours of service in exchange for 40 hours of horticultural training by Extension professionals.

What impact do Master Gardeners have on the state of Georgia?

The Georgia Master Gardener Program continues to grow across the state. More than 3,000 active Master Gardeners volunteer their time across the state each year, contributing more than one hundred seventy-thousand hours of volunteer service. This translates to almost $4 million dollars in service that is donated annually by volunteers. Helping our county agents with phone calls continues to be a popular use of volunteer time, but Master Gardeners serve in many other capacities as well. Some Master Gardeners make home garden visits in place of the county agent, saving the agent's time to work on other matters. In addition, they plant and maintain school and community gardens, conduct classes, and lead many other educational activities.

As a result of educational activities offered by MGEVs, Georgians are able to make environmentally sound gardening decisions. Because MGEVs work with Georgians to answer questions and solve problems, insects and diseases can be treated with appropriate controls, plant choices can be made to enhance landscapes and property values, individuals can grow their own fruits and vegetables, and youth gain exposure to the joy and wonder of gardening. As a result of MGEV efforts, agents are able to devote time to developing targeted educational programs that address local issues and needs. MGEVs ultimately help Extension achieve its mission of helping Georgians become healthier, more productive, financially independent and environmentally responsible.

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