To obtain the title of “Master Gardener” requires special training in horticulture, botany, soil science, and pest management. Following training, Master Gardeners share information gained in this training by volunteering with a variety of sanctioned projects approved by Washington County Master Gardener membership. These activities help improve communities throughout the county, provide gardening information to others, and provide support for the Master Gardener program.
Master Gardeners are enthusiastic about gardening and sharing horticultural knowledge. We are ever-ready to learn, enjoy helping others, and look forward to the camaraderie of like-minded volunteers.
IS THE MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM FOR ME?
To help you decide if you should apply to be a Master Gardener, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I make the time commitment to complete the training program and to fulfill the volunteer requirements?
- Am I eager to learn about a variety of plants and how to maintain them?
- Will I fully engage in a comprehensive training program?
- Am I willing to share my gardening knowledge with others in the community?
If you are a Washington County resident and answered “yes” to these questions, this program could be for you!
The first step in becoming a Master Gardener is to request an application from the Washington County Cooperative Extension Service office. Applicants are then interviewed by a team of current Master Gardeners and the county extension agent. Those accepted into the program will receive 40 hours of instruction from Cooperative Extension Service professionals, University of Arkansas instructors, and other qualified instructors on such topics as basic botany, soils and fertilizers, pest control, pesticides use, landscape design, herbs, vegetable gardening, wildflowers, annuals, perennials, organic gardening, and other topics of gardening interest.
Once certified, Master Gardeners are expected to continue their education through seminars, lectures, garden tours, state conferences, and other programs.
WHEN IS TRAINING OFFERED?
Training is held at various times during the year. Contact the Washington County Extension Service office for an application and specific information at 479.444.1755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Arkansas Master Gardener program, a service of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension.
In exchange for training, Washington County Master Gardeners are asked to volunteer at sanctioned projects approved by the Washington County Master Gardener membership and the Washington County Cooperative Extension Service.
In addition to the training classes, Master Gardener trainees shall complete 40 hours of volunteer service and 20 hours of education during their first year of participation. In subsequent years, Master Gardeners shall complete 20 hours of volunteer service and 20 hours of education.
HOW WILL I GET VOLUNTEER HOURS?
Members may choose from a variety of sanctioned projects to complete their annual service. These include gardening and outreach projects as well as committee work. Projects are located throughout Washington County. For more information, see the Sanctioned Projects section of this website.
Washington County Master Gardeners are representatives of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. As such, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Recommendations which include the use of chemicals must follow the current Arkansas Pest Management Guide series. Master Gardeners refer questions regarding commercial production of crops and pest control to the agricultural county agent.
Your mentor is your first connection with the Washington County Master Gardener organization. Early on, your mentor will get in touch with you to welcome you to the program and find out what questions you have. Your mentor will also introduce you to other members and help you to figure out which sanctioned projects will the best fit for your availability and interests. Mentors remind trainees of upcoming meetings, important deadlines, and volunteer opportunities. They also help trainees navigate the online recording system for recording volunteer and education hours.
Participants become certified Arkansas Master Gardeners one year after they have completed the formal MG training course, if they have fulfilled 40 hours of service on sanctioned projects and 20 hours of additional education requirements and have paid annual dues for the next year.
In order to retain certification, Master Gardeners must provide 20 hours of sanctioned volunteer service, participate in at least 20 hours of education, and pay annual dues each year.
The title “Arkansas Master Gardener” can be used by volunteers only when engaged in unpaid volunteer work associated with the Master Gardener program.