Master Gardener Program
The Master Gardener Program provides gardeners with intensive education in horticultural principles. Participants who complete the program are certified Master Gardeners.
Master Gardeners provide volunteer leadership and service to their community in gardening activities and other county extension related activities. These services consist of such things as clinics, beautifying the community and maintaining the county's Arboretum.
In Florida, which is where the program began in 1979, the Master Gardeners are sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Florida / IFAS at Gainesville. Over 46 Florida counties now have active Master Gardener programs.
St. Johns County Master Gardeners
After receiving 50 hours of intensive horticultural training and satisfactorily passing a final examination, newly certified Master Gardeners are required to serve a minimum of 75 volunteer hours within a year after completing training. Some activities of Master Gardeners are assisting the Extension Agent, demonstrations of vegetable, fruit and herb gardens, working with youth and senior citizen groups, helping the handicapped and the under-privileged, and assisting community organizations in varied horticultural efforts. Many Master Gardeners far exceed the required 75 service hours, with some giving over 200 hours per year. Many also continue in the program beyond the first year, such is their interest, willingness to help others, and the personal satisfaction derived from participation in this community service program.
Advanced Master Gardener Training
The learning process never ends for Master Gardeners. Programs and Field trips broaden backgrounds and knowledge in a wide variety of horticultural areas. Advanced training is offered every other year at the University of Florida in Gainesville, to keep Master Gardeners up to date on the latest information as well as to become familiar with the research, diagnostic and laboratory facilities which support them and the Extension Service.
The desire to help others is a first and absolute requirement. A personal commitment to complete the required training and to serve a minimum of 75 volunteer service hours within a year after completing the training is equally important. All applications are accepted in May and June. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, please call the St. Johns County Cooperative Extension Office at 904-209-0430 at that time. Enrollment is limited and selection is highly competitive.