Master Gardener program

Just curious if anyone else has completed the Master Gardener program. I just started the program last week. Looks like classes are just starting in all the local counties that offer the program. I think most counties kind of tweak the classes they offer, so the program can vary by county. The “Sweet and easy fruits” class is in a couple of weeks, so I’m very interested in that one. Then, “Daylilies” a few weeks later. The county I’m doing the program in promotes itself as the “Nursery Capital of the World”, and the TSU Nursery Research Farm is located there, so we have some good resources.

For those that have done it, what did you think of the program? Did it make you a better gardener? Have you done any volunteer opportunities because of it? Or, any other thoughts you may want to share.

Hi Rob- I did it in '86 and thought it was worthwhile, although it took me years to figure out that it took a lot more than that to become a master gardener! But I got a good exposure to just how broad a subject it is, with a field trip to the Corvallis Agri station (apple specialists), lectures from university pest specialists, silviculturists from the USDA forestry program, local nursery propagation folks, professional pruners- and all kinds of neat handouts that I actually found useful.

The deal was that once you took the course you volunteered to man the phones at the local extension service, but our extension agent had an alternative for those that were interested: caring for a community garden with the harvest to be donated to the local food bank. I chose to do that, but I can’t brag about the results, as the volunteers’ enthusiasm waned by the end of the season. (You never saw so much meadow bindweed in your life!)

By the way, one project that master gardener volunteers might think about would involve people caring for neglected fruit trees on private property with the harvest going to the property owner and the food bank- there’s an awful lot of potential out there, and a tremendous learning/training opportunity.

Good luck- I hope you enjoy the program and learn as much from it as I!

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I have, Rob, I am an Advanced MG from Elkhart, IN, 2004. Yes, very worth it, and I think it probably depends on your chapter. Elkhart County IN’s MG program was really good. I understand our local MG program here in San Diego county, California is also very good. Definitely made me a better and more knowledgeable gardener, especially for this little California gal plunked down into the midwest! If you enjoy community service combined with gardening, it’s a good thing to do.

Patty S.


Thanks for sharing your experiences! One thing that I quickly noticed is that there isn’t nearly enough time in each class to cover such broad topics. The first class was “Plant Diseases”. We covered a lot in two hours, but I suspect as a college course, it would take a semester or more to cover this topic.

mark, sounds like you had a very good program. Our first instructor was a plant disease specialist/professor from the local college. She was extremely knowledgeable and a great class, but two hours was far too short to learn much. Visiting the plant lab was fun. Hopefully, there will be some good volunteer opportunities in the local community.

hoosier, how do you become an “Advanced MG”? Is there an advanced program, or a certain number of volunteer hours needed?

Yes, number of hours volunteered. I was able to put in enough hours to become an Adv. MG. It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed my time as a MG in Indiana.

Patty S.

I am the president of our local MG program here in Morgan county WV. I can tell you from personal experience that the class structure varies from chapter to chapter . One thing we all have in common though is the fact that we strive to make each set of classes better each year. We schedule a potluck every month and continuing education classes throughout the year. We are finalizing details of a grafting class now. Good luck with it.


I was asked and gave two lectures about home fruit growing for a local Master Gardeners chapter. One lecture was for their fruits re-certification. I recall the lecture was supposed to be 2.5 hours long and cover as much about tree/small fruit growing as possible.

It was fun and I enjoyed giving my lecture with lots of photos. Very difficult however to cover all tree and small fruits in that time frame. I never made it both times I tried but did get thru the tree fruits decently each time.

I enjoyed the enthusiasm all had and the questions they had for me. Definitely a lot of work to do but it was very enjoyable experience. I did get one lady in the crowd heckling me for “promoting” the use of synthetic pesticides for insect/disease control. I tried so hard to kindly point out that we just discussed bagging apples for insect/disease control and nobody was forcing anyone to use harsh chemicals if they did not want to. I was just offering ALLl the solutions they could give to those who asked about what to do on certain insect/ disease
issues should they have them. She was really anti-chemical use on anything but otherwise the whole experience was very rewarding.