What is a Master Gardener


Hey everybody, I hope you’re doing well today.
I want to finally give you an update about the master gardener program that I’m going
through and apologize for how long it’s taken me to get you an update on this. Frankly,
we’ve had some weather that’s bad for us here in the South, and it caused the program to
have several different delays which really messed up my plans for how I was going to
do the videos. In the end, it’s worked out for the better, because it’s given me a couple
weeks to see the comments come in from the video where I announced that I was going to
go through this program and to get a couple classes under my belt and see just how the
comments actually came into fruition with the class itself, and here’s what I mean by
that: I think it is good to have this video as an intermediary and talk about the fact
that Master Gardener programs from state to state have some varying instruction, and I
think that that only stands to reason, because each of us has our own climate, our own ecology,
our own economy even, that dictates what is grown, why it’s grown, how it’s grown throughout
our different regions, and because of that I think it stands to reason that different
states are going to have different programs. So with that said, I was not very clear in
the first video on exactly what sort of training is actually involved with this. It works out to a total of 40 hours of in
class instruction. Now that in class instruction is done mostly virtually. It’s live, the instructors
who are professors, PhD doctors, throughout the university system, are on a video conference
with us at local extension offices, so we go into a classroom at our local extension
office, sit in front of a big screen TV that’s attached to video conferencing software, and
we have a microphone and we watch a presentation, they open the microphones for questions and
it’s all very interactive. So, there might be something to be said for that if you’re
not the kind of person that can learn in that environment, but I think that for what it’s
worth, it’s probably the best that can be done. Here in my county there’s only five
people taking the course. It doesn’t seem very prudent to have an instructor there for
40 hours for just five people, where, from what I can see, there’s dozens of people tuning
in from around the state so they can get the same amount of instruction out to more people.
Once we have the 40 hours of instruction we have to take a test. It’s my understanding
that the test is generally open book. We get to use our course manual to take that test,
but it is graded. Now, talking about the course manual, this is it. That is a three inch three
ring binder full of information. Now I will say, for fairness, that the majority of this
document are printed PowerPoint slides with spaces to take notes while we’re in the classroom.
It also has a good amount of printed publications put out by the university that are made public
to people throughout the state, but are here for our quick reference. So, it’s a lot of
information packed into one really big binder. Presuming that you pass the test, you become
what I’m going to term an Interim Master Gardener. I don’t think that’s the official term they
use but I think it relays the concept pretty well. They give you a little temporary name
badge that identifies the fact that you’ve been through the Master Gardener training,
but that you still haven’t completed all of the requirements. In order to fully complete
the program, within one year of passing the test we have to complete 40 hours worth of
volunteer service, and there’s a lot of different ways that we can provide that volunteer service,
from one on one contact with somebody who is specifically asking a Master Gardener for
information on how to deal with a problem or a question about how to design a certain
area or issue on their property, to writing articles, to attending events, and several different
things count toward the volunteer service. Once you have completed that 40 hours, you
become certified. You get an official name badge, and from that point on, within every
year from that point, you have to complete 32 hours worth of service. Now of that 32
hours, 12 of those hours have to be continuing education units. We have to go through more
training. And 20 of those hours have to be volunteer service.
So what’s the whole point of this? Why do we go through the program? What does a Master
Gardener volunteer actually accomplish? Well, to put it in layman’s terms, and certainly
not the wording that was given to us when we started the program, Master Gardeners are
there to fill a gap and make it so that the university doesn’t have to come up with the
funding to pay more employees at the local level. We’re there to assist the local extension
office with answering questions, completing projects and assisting home horticulturists
with whatever they may need. We’re not there to help the commercial growers. There’s other
programs for that, but if you’re a home gardener, a home landscaper just trying to do something
for your personal property, then we’re the people who make sure that your questions get
answered, your concerns get addressed and, if it needs to be escalated up, we send it
to tier 2 support and they’ll actually get the university doctors and professors to come
over and help us assess or deal with the situation. So, that’s what the program really is there
for. It’s there to provide volunteers to the university so that the job can get done without
having to invest monetarily in having more staff. What does it really accomplish? What I think really it accomplishes, I think what the Master
Gardeners are really known for, is their community support. I think they’re known for being seen
in the community gardens. They’re known for being seen at the local events, so that the
everyday gardener doesn’t have to pick up a phone and talk to somebody that may be a
couple hundred miles away at a university to deal with the problem, but can talk to
somebody who’s right there in the county that might even be able to come by and see an issue
face to face and assist and give a helping hand. I think that’s what they’re known for
and that’s the part that I really want to be a part of.
So what have I been learning? What sort of information am I walking away with? Well,
I’m gonna save that for a different video or series of them really, but I want to say
this right up front: There were some concerns in my announcement video on exactly what’s
going to be pushed on me. What’s gonna be required of me as a Master Gardener to put
out to other people and generally the thought was, all you’re gonna be taught about is using
petro chemical fertilizers and sprays and you’re going to have to tell people to use
these things and that’s just what comes with the title. I have to say, I’ve been very
impressed with the neutrality that’s being presented. Now, understand that word neutrality.
It does not mean that it’s the other side of the fence. It means that we are straddling
the fence. I’ve been very impressed that we’re learning about the organic and natural sides
of things and being told how we can use those first and then all those other things are
actually the fall back plan. They’re not the go to plan. So, I’ll get down into the details
about that. Yes, we’re learning about both of them, but I’m still pretty impressed that
we’re learning about both. I think that’s a big step forward and a lot more than what
some people were expecting that I would get out of this course.
So, in the meantime, please go down below in the comments section, if you’ve got a specific
question for me to address, please leave it there and when we get to that particular topic
in the course I’ll do my best to answer your question. I certainly have learned a lot so
far and I know I’m gonna continue to learn a lot more as I go through this.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to watch. I really appreciate when you take the time
also to share the video with your friends so that we can bring more people into the
community. Thank you again for watching. We’ll see you next time.

18 thoughts on “What is a Master Gardener

  1. I think the internet kind of makes programs like that obsolete.  When I have a question I google it and get all kinds of answers, not just the ones taught by universities.  I also think a homesteader is someone who should experiment and not listen to experts.  That's really the fun of it.  I had someone tell me a while back I couldn't plant potatoes with broccoli because one loves acid the other likes base.  So, I'll find out.  I've got some ideas for a modified 3 sister garden and I don't really want to hear what an expert thinks about it.  I want to see the results myself.  We've really seen the results of colleges and gardening.  They managed to tell you about a balanced approach?  How long did that take when almost everyone is growing organically?  How about water conservation?  Do they even understand how important it is?  They're always behind the times catching up to the people who are actually dealing with the real problems. 

  2. Kudos to you Jared. I'm still very interested in enrolling into the Master Gardner program here in South Florida, but I just don't have the available time to make it happen due to my "weird" work schedule. Oh well… guess I'll have to wait until I can actually retire. LOL. Looking forward to your next upload

  3. Great video, I like your explanations of the program, they are spot on. I am surprised that your county only has a small class. I am also surprised by the actual class time. Is there course work required outside of class like webinars or reading/research assignments? Do you have to sign up for an intern project as part of your volunteer hours?
    Thank you again for all of your hard work, Ed

  4. People are thinking that learning about something is a bad thing. The more you know about any type of gardening, the better off you are, regardless of weather or not you believe in using it or not. #KnowledgeIsPower

  5. I am eager to hear about what you're learning.  I'll look forward to those series of videos.  As a fairly new gardener myself, you have encouraged me to check into our country extension office and see what programs they have to offer. 

  6. im a science major, and now a permaculture junkie.  I honestly learned more through permaculture then I did in a "paid for" classroom. hope it all works out either way my friend. thx for the info and clarification.  your video has motivated me to NOT take our local Master Gardener program. Thanks

  7. Great info! I've been thinking about joining a garden club and was wondering about being a Master Gardener. Thanks for the info!!

  8. as a Master Gardener myself, I challenge fire7side to get all the information on Google that I have on entomology, botany, taxonomy, soil, propagation, etc. etc.while attending the actual classes. I really enjoy informing the public and helping them when they ask for information and, by the way, Master Gardeners do not charge anyone a cent to their work.

  9. thanks for your take on the program. i am in week 6 of the UC Davis Ventura County MG (southern California) class of 2016.

  10. Nice explanation of the MG program in general. Here, we have over 300 MGs in our county (Silicon Valley, CA) and every two years we train about 30 more (over a hundred applicants are interviewed). We have a YouTube channel with a growing library of over 20 video lessons presented by our local certified Master Gardeners. I hope you will take a look sometime. https://www.youtube.com/user/CAMasterGardener

  11. Thank you for that info. I have been interested in taking a MG course for a couple years now and currently looking through information at our local extension.

  12. I have loved growing things for most of my life. A few years ago I applied for and was accepted into the Master Gardener Program of Santa Clara County, CA. As a MG, there are regular opportunities to attend lectures by UC profs and other experts — for free! We volunteer for at least 25 hours per year in demonstration gardens scattered around the county, give gardening talks in local libraries, make presentations to corporations' employees, set up information tables at festivals and fairs, we even produce video lessons about many different gardening topics. Being a Master Gardener is very rewarding. Congratulations to you for "making the cut"!

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