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Master Gardeners: Volunteers Give Back to the Community
By moniquegarcia on Mon, 08/19/2013 - 12:57pm
Arizona has long been a destination for newcomers unfamiliar with its challenging growing conditions. Longtime residents often need guidance on home horticulture as well. The nationwide Master Gardener program answers this need. In neighborhoods throughout the state, volunteer master gardeners create and maintain regionally specific demonstration gardens that showcase new plants, new planting methods, composting techniques and new irrigation methods for homeowners, schools and a wide range of community applications.
Description of Action:
Arizona Master Gardeners are university-trained volunteers who serve as community educators. Working with the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, they provide research-based information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping to the public. After completing a semester-long course concentrating on gardening and the environment, master gardeners associates volunteer to serve their communities, and then become Certified Master Gardeners. In 13 Arizona counties, trained volunteers promote the concept of an “earth-friendly backyard,” including ways to save energy and water, preserve water quality, and use integrated pest management techniques.
Master gardeners answer literally thousands of questions annually. In Maricopa County, about 400 master gardeners donate 28,000 hours every year by fielding telephone calls. In Cochise County, certified master gardeners answered clientele inquiries, completed projects and contributed more than 3,000 volunteer hours in 2008. Statewide, 1,010 volunteers in 12 counties donated 64,080 hours last year. Using the Independent Sector value of $19.51 per hour, this contribution totals $1,250,200. According to a state survey, about 75 percent of clients who attended master gardener clinics said they were willing to use alternatives to pesticides and 95 percent said they would contact Cooperative Extension again when they had a gardening question.