Master Gardener Program
Florida Master Gardeners are University of Florida-trained volunteer teachers. Master Gardeners educate and provide research-based information to Floridians about gardening, America's most popular pastime. Their information about planning and maintaining urban, suburban, and rural landscapes always emphasizes environmental stewardship.
The Master Gardener Program is a major outreach that assists Extension in significant horticultural educational efforts in the community. Master Gardener volunteers provide much of the first contact through Plant Clinics, Plant Lifelines, and other educational programming.
The volunteers (or MGs as they call themselves) execute a variety of outreach tasks as determined by the program leader (usually the consumer horticultural agent). Duties include: Answering horticultural questions over the phone, in person, or through the media; Participating in public service projects; Giving educational programs; supporting youth activities, performing soil sample evaluations; and Assisting in field research.
During 2001, Florida Master Gardener Volunteers assisted horticulture agents in developing and promoting non-commercial horticulture ultimately increasing environmental action and awareness in 56 counties. Statewide more than 3,678 volunteers contributed 309,825 hours to local county horticulture extension educational programs providing $4,972,697.00 worth of services to citizens of Florida (Florida State Master Gardener Program Website). There are presently nearly 100 Charlotte County Master Gardeners assisting the Horticulture Outreach Program at the County Extension Office. These trained volunteers contributed over 26,186 hours from 2000 through 2005 valued at $433,116.00. This corps of paraprofessionals has proved to be an essential part of educating our customers in this rapidly growing, horticulturally-challenged community.