WHAT IS “MASTER GARDENERS”? The Indiana Master Gardener is a program sponsored by Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service through the local county Extension Office. Master Gardeners is a volunteer training program designed to meet the information needs of the local gardening community. It is much more than a gardening class. Its specific aim is to provide information and technical assistance about gardening and home horticulture through the use of qualified volunteers. Participants in the program volunteer their services in the community.
WHAT IS THE VOLUNTEER COMMITMENT? The type of volunteer work will be based on a mutual agreement with the Master Gardener and the Extension Educator in charge. Types of volunteer work might include writing articles for the newspaper, coaching individuals at community gardens, speaking to garden clubs or other groups, or preparing materials for other Master Gardeners to use. The possibilities are endless.
In previous years, Master Gardeners have set up and manned booths at various shows, worked with several local parks departments, worked with several retirement homes and neighborhood associations, held seminars for the public and coordinated a local Garden Walk. Others worked at the Extension Office, volunteering time to answer the phone during the gardening season.
HOW DO I BECOME A MASTER GARDENER? To become a Master Gardener, you must be selected from a pool of applicants, complete the training program, pass an examination administered by the local Extension Educator, and volunteer at least 45 hours of public service through the Elkhart County Extension Office. Class size is limited to 32 people due to the overwhelming number of interested people. Priority will be given to Elkhart County residents and those who will fulfill the volunteer commitment.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION WITH PURDUE UNIVERSITY? Each state has a university designated as its land grant college. In Indiana, that is Purdue University. As a land grant college, Purdue is charged with the responsibility to do research and teaching on agricultural and horticultural issues in Indiana. Much of the informal teaching is performed by the Purdue School of Agriculture, through the Extension Service, which has an office in each Indiana County.
Each county has a person designated as the Extension Educator - Agriculture, who works with the people in that community to answer their agriculture and horticulture questions. If there is interest, the Extension Educator can organize a Master Gardener program. Not all counties offer a Master Gardener program.