Become a Master Gardener
A brief history . . .
Once upon a time . . . well, actually in 1972, the extension agent in King County, Seattle, was overwhelmed with phone calls from county residents demanding help with their gardening problems. He tried hiding under his desk, earplugs and working the night shift, but that didn't stop the calls, so he enlisted the aid of the extension's plant pathologist. Even doubling the forces didn't begin to solve the problem, so these two put their heads together and developed the plans for what turned into a nationwide program -- the Master Gardener program. The plans called for volunteers, trained in gardening practices, to help meet requests for gardening information.
Pennsylvania's program was initiated eight years later after the vice-president of the Clearfield County Extension Executive Committee learned about Seattle's experience in a magazine article. Knowing that the Clearfield County extension office personnel were attempting to handle a crushing number of phone calls and requests for gardening information, he immediately requested data about the program. Subsequently, the Clearfield County Extension Director proposed the Master Gardener program to Penn State University. Penn State was in favor of the idea and the first Penn State Master Gardeners finished training in 1982. Currently, there are about 2200 active Master Gardeners in 58 of Pennsylvania's counties.
Master Gardeners complete an application and interview process and then attend a series of classes that begin in the fall. Along with other Master Gardeners across Pennsylvania, Butler County Master Gardeners complete a 30-plus-hour initial training program and volunteer 50 hours the first year. In subsequent years volunteers will complete 10 hours of update training and volunteer a minimum of 20 hours.