What is the Master Gardener Program?
The program provides interested individuals with extensive training in many phases of gardening. In return, participants dedicate volunteer time to teaching horticultural information based on university research and recommendations.
Training and volunteer service are coordinated at the county level by extension educators or trained volunteers. State wide functions are carried out by Nancy Knauss, State Master Gardener Coordinator and from the State Master Gardener Steering Committee.
The Penn State Master Gardening Program is a volunteer program that takes people with an interest and enthusiasm for horticulture and gives them basic training in a broad range of horticulture topics. In exchange for the training, volunteers are expected to give at least 50 hours of volunteer time within one year of completing the training to help Penn State Extension better serve the home gardening audience. Volunteer hours can be served in any number of ways, such as answering home gardening questions over the phone at the Penn State Extension Office, speaking to garden clubs, civic organizations, schools, or other groups about horticultural topics, community beautification projects, or in other ways which help to educate the public to techniques and benefits of gardening.
Generally 15-20 people are selected for the once/year class.
Those accepted into the program attend training classes within the county that start in September/October and go until mid-November with basic topics such as Botany, Plant Propagation, Plant Pathology, Entomology, Communication Skills, and Pest Management. We take an extended break until after the holidays and resume in early January with the more applied topics such as Fruit Growing, Herbaceous Ornamentals, Woody Ornamentals, Landscape Design, Vegetable Growing, and Pruning. This is enough for a four year degree in horticulture jammed into 50 hours in the evenings. Trainees get a good, if quick, overview of the entire subject of horticulture and good references to turn to for more information. There will be a registration cost to those accepted into the program. This is to cover the cost of the manual, name tag, and cost of the meeting room.
All in all it is a good opportunity for excellent training, fellowship with others who share enthusiasm for gardening, and a chance to help people with gardening problems.
All new applicants will be notified about the next orientation meeting to be held in September. Until then, applications will be accepted and kept on file.