- Who Are We?
- How Do I Join?
- Requirements of Master Gardener Volunteers
- Training and Certification
- Maintaining Master Gardener Certification
- Suggested Web sites by Master Gardeners
Who Are We?
Master Gardeners are adult volunteers recruited and trained by county extension agents and University of Florida specialists to provide assistance in Extension home horticultural programs. Through this program, enthusiastic gardeners study such areas as botany, horticulture, soil science, and plant and insect identification and management.
The Florida Master Gardener Program is administered by the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. This instruction gives the MGs a good background to prepare them for the wide variety of questions they may face as volunteers at plant clinics, giving talks, answering phones, and in the other duties they undertake. Master Gardeners volunteer 35 hours per year for Extension and take at least 10 hours of continuing education classes every year. This may seem like a lot, but many of our MGs volunteer twice that! The hours don't matter much when you're doing what you love.top
How Do I Join?
At some point during the year, an essential pre-course meeting ("Getting to Know What It Means to Be a Volunteer Master Gardener") must be attended. The course is only offered once a year because it is so intensive and requires a huge commitment in time from our instructors. After successfully completing the training program, Volunteer Master Gardeners teach and promote Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles and practices. Examples of volunteer work include: talking about gardening at fairs, festivals and special events; speaking at clubs, libraries and schools; staffing the plant clinic answering phone questions and assisting with walk-ins; helping maintain a demonstration garden; and writing about gardening for local newspapers.
If your are interested in becoming a Pasco County Master Gardener, please call (352) 518-0156 or email Whitney Elmore to add your name to the prospective Master Gardener email contact list.top
Requirements of Master Gardener Volunteers
- Love of gardening and the desire to learn and practice Florida-friendly horticulture methods
- Commitment to volunteering 75 hours the first year; 35 hours thereafter
- Willingness to share gardening information with people of Pasco County
- Time to volunteer and attend monthly meetings, field trips, and/or training sessions
- Eagerness to learn Florida horticulture by active participation in the Master Gardener Training Course and commitment to learning via continuing education activities required to maintain certification
Training and Certification
If you are accepted into the Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program, you will receive 72 hours of horticultural training in a 12-week course. A required fee covers educational books from the University of Florida Press, numerous handouts and other class expenses. The course is held one full day each week (typically Thursdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm).
This comprehensive Volunteer Master Gardener course covers basic botany and entomology; plant propagation; pruning; how to fertilize; how to grow vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals; landscape design; and plant pest problems, among other topics.
This curriculum will help you be a better Florida gardener. Most importantly, it will enable you, working through the Extension office, to help fellow citizens with their gardening questions as well as teach them how to be Florida-Friendly gardeners.
Individuals who are accepted into the program must agree to give a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer work the first year and 35 hours each year thereafter and receive a minimum of ten hours of continuing education annually to remain certified as a Florida Master Gardenertop
The Core Areas Include:
- Botany, entomology, pathology, soil management and plant nutrition
- Cultural methods of growing vegetables and fruit, trees, turf and plants (including annuals, perennials, ornamentals, wildlife-attracting plants, natives)
- Providing customer service
- Other related programs such as the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program and 4-H
- The program includes classroom training via lectures, multimedia presentations, and group activities.
Maintaining Master Gardener Certification
- Volunteer a minimum of 35 hours a year
- Areas of volunteer service include, but are not limited to, staffing plant clinics, answering residents' questions on the phone or in person, maintaining demonstration gardens, assisting with displays at public venues such as the county fair, teaching youth through schools or 4-H, speaking to clubs or civic organizations, etc.
- Attend Master Gardener monthly meetings, field trips, and activities
- Complete at least eight hours of continuing education/training per year
Suggested Websites by Master Gardeners
- Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program
- The Institute for Regional Conservation
- Kids Gardening - Helping Young Minds to Grow