By Janet Laminack, Denton County Extension Agent-Horticulture
Master Gardeners are a volunteer program under the umbrella of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
Master Gardeners complete an intensive training course and then contribute 70 hours of service in their first year to become certified. After that, Master Gardeners continue to contribute 12 hours of volunteer service annually and participate in 12 hours of continuing education to keep their knowledge up-to-date. Those are the mere minimal requirements that many of the Denton County Master Gardeners blow right on past!
In 2020, despite the pandemic and restrictions on activities, our roughly 300 Master Gardeners volunteered more than 20,000 hours of their time to various projects throughout the county.
The service aspect is not to be overlooked. Many people want to participate in the program in order to gain horticultural knowledge for their own benefit. That is a side perk, but not the purpose of the program.
Denton County Master Gardener Association is not a garden club, it’s an important group under AgriLife which helps us achieve our mission. The Master Gardeners exponentially expand the outreach of our office to educate and engage county residents in the implementation of research-based horticultural and environmental practices that create sustainable gardens, landscapes and communities.
Denton County has a strong Master Gardener program, statewide we are categorized as an “Extra Large” county. In 2020, we were recognized as the second place outstanding association in our category. In 2019, two projects were recognized at the state level: Denton ISD Days at Clear Creek (which is a collaboration with the Master Naturalists, another one of our volunteer programs) educates thousands of 2nd and 4th graders annually. The other project is the Flower Mound First Baptist Community Garden which not only donates vegetables to food pantries, but teaches community members how to garden.
Other award-winning projects include our Help Desk which is available to answer your horticulture questions, our speakers’ bureau which is available to give presentations on all sorts of gardening topics, and our monthly e-newsletter “The Root,” which is packed full of educational articles and upcoming events. If you don’t have the time to commit to being a Master Gardener right now, I hope you take advantage of these free opportunities we offer.
To learn more about what becoming a Master Gardener is all about, visit www.dcmga.com/become-a-master-gardener or join us for an informational meeting this Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. This year it’s virtual (like so many other things), but, we are making plans and are very hopeful for the class to be held in person in the spring. The deadline to submit your application to become a Denton County Master Gardener is Friday, Oct. 22.