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Master Gardener program continues to grow

The LSU AgCenter offers home gardeners opportunities to develop their skills and share their knowledge with others through participation in the Louisiana Master Gardener program.

The Louisiana Master Gardener program involves volunteers to help meet the educational needs of home gardeners in Louisiana. The program is divided into two parts: instruction and service. Participants, who must go through an application process, receive 40-50 hours of intensive, practical horticultural training. The following topics are among those covered in the program:

• Soils and Plant Nutrition
• Plant Pathology, Entomology
• Vegetable Gardening
• Fruit Culture
• Woody Ornamentals
• Annuals and Perennials
• Lawn Management
• Environmental Horticulture
• Problem Solving

After successfully completing the classroom portion, which involves regular attendance and passing a final exam, participants receive the title of Louisiana Master Gardener and an official name badge. The Louisiana Master Gardener graduates then volunteer a minimum of 40 hours of service to complete the last part of the program.

Following their mandatory service, many of the Master Gardeners stay with the AgCenter and continue to teach gardening classes and answer gardening questions. "It's more than a volunteer activity for some of them, it's an avocation," said Rene Schmit, state Master Gardener coordinator and county agent in St. Charles Parish. Louisiana boasts more than 2,100 active Master Gardeners, he said.

Started in Baton Rouge in 1994, the program was adopted statewide in 1997. It is now offered in 24 parishes with volunteer participation in 52 parishes, Schmit said.

The Louisiana Master Gardener program is part of a larger, national program that began in the state of Washington in the 1970s. Master Gardeners are all-volunteer organizations sanctioned by land-grant colleges and universities in each state and function as an extension of the college or university. The parent organization in Louisiana is the LSU AgCenter.

People who have the desire, commitment and time to learn – and who want to put their knowledge and skills to work through volunteer service – may apply for admission to the Master Gardener program. Information is available through LSU AgCenter offices in each parish.

If you want to be a Master Gardener, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to learn more about plants, pests, landscaping and gardening?
  • Do I want to participate in an intensive, practical training program?
  • Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge with people in my community?
  • Do I have the time to commit to both the training and the volunteer service?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, then the Louisiana Master Gardener program could be for you.
Here are more facts about the program:

  • 30 Master Gardener coordinators.
  • 17 Master Gardener associations.
  • 11 Master Gardener association newsletters.

The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.

Last Updated: 9/10/2013 1:09:41 PM

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Benedict, Linda F.
LSU AgCenter