Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Become an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer!

The Extension Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers that work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension Service to provide horticultural information to the surrounding community. Currently 46 states have Extension Master Gardener programs involving over 15,000 volunteers.

Extension Master Gardeners must successfully complete a 40+ hour training curriculum based on horticultural topics covering everything from growing vegetables, fruits and ornamentals to identifying and managing insects and diseases. They then become valuable community resources to schools, public gardens, churches, youth organizations, and other entities seeking help with gardens or landscape projects. EMG Volunteers also extend the reach of the county Cooperative Extension Service through plant clinics, horticulture hotlines, factsheets, demonstration gardens, and educational workshops.

How will you benefit from the EMG Volunteer Program?
Through the training program and interaction with local experts and experienced gardeners, you will become a more skilled and informed gardener. No experience is necessary to become a Master Gardener. A comprehensive training manual and other research-based publications are provided to participants. There is a registration fee to be involved in the 12-week program.

Participants can also attend statewide Extension workshops, field trips, and conferences where they can interact with other Master Gardener Volunteers and Extension areas specialists.

The EMG Program is not all work. There are many opportunities for socializing with others and developing new friendships. The EMG Program also exposes participants to a wide-range of organizations and local communities, fostering important networking opportunities beyond the horticultural scope.

How does the EMG Program benefit the community?
Extension Master Gardener Volunteers share their knowledge in a variety of ways. Volunteers can write written factsheets, assist with youth and adult programs, organize garden, maintain public gardens, and help operate the Watauga Extension Center’s Home Horticulture Hotline. Volunteer hours are flexible and there are endless opportunities for contributing to the community. Travel expenses are tax deductible.

How do I become an EMG Volunteer?
The desire to help others is the central key, coupled with a commitment to both complete the required training and to volunteer at least 40 hours of service within a year’s time of completing the training.

To be considered for the program, you must complete an application form. The deadline for the 2012 Program is February 17, 2012. Application forms can be picked up at the Watauga Extension Center or downloaded HERE. A fee is charged for the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. For more information, contact Meghan Baker at 828-264-3061 or Meghan_baker@ncsu.edu.

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