For anyone who was listening to the radio program this weekend, you may have heard a phone call from someone with the Harris County Master Gardener Program. So, I figured this provided me with a great opportunity to get more people involved in the Master Gardener Programs via the County Extension offices throughout the state.
When the term "Master Gardener" was first coined in the early 1970s to describe a new Extension program in Washington State, few could have predicted it would spread into Texas and blossom into one of the most effective volunteer organizations in the state. In fact, I challenge anyone to find four better programs than the programs we have in Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery and Galveston Counties combined.
Back in the late seventies and early eighties, county agents in the Texas Cooperative Extension were experiencing overwhelming demands for horticulture information. Quite simply, they needed help with the number of gardening questions coming into the Extension offices. The first Master Gardener class, in Texas, was held in 1979 in Montgomery County and drew about 25 people. The 50-hour course was held in the evenings and taught by Extension agents and specialists from Texas A&M using a manual compiled from Extension publications and news articles. Volunteer service was optional, but class members were encouraged to work on Extension projects.
The Texas Cooperative Extension made an official commitment to a Texas Master Gardener program in 1987 with the hiring of a statewide coordinator. At that time, guidelines were developed for the program, including a minimum of 50 hours of formal training and 50 hours of volunteer service to become a certified Texas Master Gardener. The 500-page training handbook also was completed then.
In the 1990s, the Texas Master Gardener movement exploded, fueled by the program's success and visibility. In 1991, a statewide, non-profit organization was formed and called the Texas Master Gardener Association. As of January 1998, there are 54 county Master Gardener programs with over 4,000 certified Master Gardeners statewide.
The Harris County classes are upon us. So, if you've always wanted to be a Master Gardener, now is the time to sign up. Unfortunately, the Fort Bend Master Gardeners classes are already underway, but you can always stay up to date on their upcoming training sessions through their website at www.fbmg.com.
Montgomery County also has Master Gardener Training sessions, but their next class doesn't begin until January. However, if you read their MG site, they have a "mandatory orientation session" on September 15th. Here's their website...
In Galveston County, they have historically held their MG Training starting in February.
In the meantime, Harris County has two opportunities coming up right around the corner...
Precinct 2 Fall MG Certification Class
1202 Genoa Redbluff,
Tuesdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. beginning Sept. 6-Dec. 13.
Fee for the class is $150.00. 60 volunteer hours are required to become certified. Applications are available at their Website: Click Here, or call to talk to a class facilitator.
Bear Creek Fall MG Certification Class
3033 Bear Creek Drive
Thursdays from 8:45 a.m. - 3 p.m. beginning Aug. 25, and continuing 12 weeks.
Fee for the class is $150.00 - 60 hours of volunteer service are required to become certified.
And in case you have not ordered it yet, here's the link for ordering the listener discounted version of my new book "Gulf Coast Gardening with Randy Lemmon."
Only as an email tip subscriber can you have access to ordering this book at a discount. Okay, let's be honest here - if you would like to share the above link with anyone else, who is not subscribed to the email tips, they too can enjoy the only discount available for this book until the end of August.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.