COLUMBIA, Mo. – 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Extension Master Gardener program at Washington State University. What began with 300 volunteers in Washington state has grown to more than 84,000 volunteers across the country, said University of Missouri Extension horticulturist and state Master Gardener coordinator David Trinklein.
To commemorate the event, March 20-26 of this year has been designated National Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Week.
“It’s both inspiring and gratifying to work with Master Gardeners,” Trinklein said. “They show an eagerness to learn and have a passion for helping others.”
Trinklein says volunteers are dedicated to learning science-based horticulture practices from land-grant university extension faculty in their home states.
Nationally, Extension Master Gardeners connect with tens of millions of people each year, “rolling up their sleeves to empower local communities through horticulture … one person, one question, one garden at a time,” he said.
The program has a presence in all 50 states and three countries. Extension Master Gardeners are found at farmers markets, school gardens and classrooms, community and educational gardens, leading garden tours, contributing fresh produce to food pantries and staffing helpdesks ready to answer questions about gardening and horticulture, Trinklein said.
In Missouri, Master Gardener volunteers help their neighbors use research-based practices that can improve their quality of life while conserving natural resources, he said. Additionally, Master Gardeners inspire lifelong learning through continued exploration and discovery.
Trinklein says Master Gardeners in Missouri last year donated a total of 133,208 hours of volunteer service to their communities worth an estimated $3.99 million.
To become a Missouri Master Gardener, individuals complete a 30-hour core training course then give 30 hours of volunteer service back to their communities in approved MU Extension activities, thus fulfilling the program’s mission of “helping others learn to grow,” Trinklein said. Master Gardener training is offered both in person and online.
Anyone interested in gardening as well as helping others is welcome to apply. To learn more about the Missouri Master Gardener program, visit mg.missouri.edu or contact your local MU Extension center.
— MU Extension