What is a Master Gardener?
All states and most County Extensions have Master Gardener programs, and while the training may be slightly different, the purpose is the same. Master Gardeners are trained by the State's Land Grant College or University as volunteer ambassadors who greatly increase the Extension's outreach to the community. We spread the word on horticulture by volunteering in communities, schools, libraries, home shows, demostration gardens, and many other places.
An Arizona Master Gardener (MG) is:
• A University of Arizona trained individual who completes a Cooperative Extension semester-long specialized course in gardening/horticulture.
• A non-paid volunteer who agrees to complete a specified number of volunteer hours and continuing education hours each year. MG's are trained and committed to serve the community for the purpose of increasing the outreach of the County Extension Office.
• We are County-specific and local. Each county extension office has their own MG program. Maricopa and Pinal Counties focus on our conditions in the low desert... our specific climate, our soils, our water, our native plants and our proven agricultural crops.
• We may or may not be experts or “masters” at any or all horticulture topics, but we are trained to help you find science- and research-based information based on testing done by UA (and sometimes other universities) in our area. There are many resources on the Internet, but our information is different because it has been researched and tested locally, by UA researchers and staff.
How do Master Gardeners serve the community?
Master Gardeners help fulfill the Extension’s educational outreach mission through these activities:
• Operate a Plant Help Desk where anyone can get help with plant and pest problems
• Give presentations and classes to local groups, write articles, and “spread the word” about our program and horticulture in general.
• Assist in setting up and maintaining community and school gardens
• Establish and operate programs to introduce both adults and children to gardening
• Present information at garden & trade shows, libraries and other events.
• Maintain demonstration gardens which showcase plants, planting methods, composting, irrigation methods, and pest management.
• Provide advice on establishing water-wise landscaping and watering techniques.
• Conduct annual plant sales, special clinics, and assist other organizations with related activities and courses. For example, we assist Arizona Project Wet with Water Festivals and the Arizona Municipal Water User's Association with courses on efficient irrigation. We also volunteer in the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College and the Herb Garden run by the AZ Herb Association (located behind the Extension).