Becoming a Master Gardener

Have you ever heard the title Master Gardener and wondered … "How can I can become one of those?"

For those interested in becoming a Texas Master Gardener, here’s some great news. The next class for the Free State Master Gardeners of Van Zandt County is set for January 9.

The Texas Master Gardener program is an educational activity offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. This program is designed to increase the availability of horticultural information and extend horticultural projects throughout the community. These goals are implemented through the training and employment of local volunteers known as Master Gardeners. 

The Master Gardener program provides invaluable training and educational opportunities. Professional and amateur horticulturalists, as well as people simply seeking up-to-date horticultural information can advance their gardening expertise, plus gain self-satisfaction. The Master Gardener program allows individuals to dedicate their time and talents to enhancing the quality of life for citizens of their community using the science and art of horticulture.

Objectives of the Master Gardener Program are to expand the capacity of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to distribute horticultural information to individuals and groups in the community, and to develop and enhance community programs related to horticulture.  Depending on community needs, these may be environmental improvement activities, horticulture therapy projects or community and school garden programs.

Anyone with a willingness to learn and a desire to help others can become a Master Gardener. A trainee in the Master Gardener Program must attend a minimum of 50 hours of instruction and volunteer 50 hours of service at one of the project locations to earn the title of Texas Master Gardener. In order to retain this title, a person must take six hours of recertification training and provide an additional 20 hours of volunteer service through the local Master Gardener program annually.  

The cost of the program is $150, which covers the cost of the training manual, supplies and the first-year association dues. The class will be limited to the first 15 paid students. Applicants will go through an interview process in early November. The Free State Master Gardeners are looking for both men and women (couples welcome too) to be members. 

Master Gardeners have responsibilities. Following comprehensive training in horticulture, a Master Gardener must complete 50 volunteer hours per year. Volunteers are required to report to an extension agent about all planned activities. All the work is usually done within the county.

The Free State Master Gardener program is an educational and volunteer program offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of the Texas A&M System. It is open to people of all ages, regardless of socio-economic level, race, color, sex, handicap or national origin.

If interested in joining the Free State Master Gardener group, contact the Van Zandt County Extension Office, located at 235 East Groves, or call (903) 567-4149 for an application. Applications are due by Thursday, October 25.  

For those that are accepted into this class, there will be an introductory meeting on, Wednesday, November 28, at 9 a.m. At that meeting, the inductees will pay the $150 and receive their training course materials. 

For more information about the Free State Master Gardener program in Van Zandt County, contact the Van Zandt County Extension office at (903) 567-4149.

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