Master Gardeners Make a Difference in Yavapai County - May 7, 2008
Jeff Schalau, Associate Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County

Many people have heard of Master Gardeners, but they may not know exactly what they do or how to become one. First and foremost, Master Gardeners are knowledgeable volunteers that have completed a comprehensive horticultural training course and serve their communities with science-based horticultural information. There are over 60,000 Master Gardeners in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., the Master Gardener Program is affiliated with the Land Grant University System and Cooperative Extension.

In Yavapai County, we have 132 Certified Master Gardeners that provide science-based horticultural information at our offices, public events, and present to garden clubs and other organizations. There are also 40 more Associate Master Gardeners that are about to finish the training course and begin volunteering. In 2007, Yavapai County Master Gardeners documented 11,099 hours of service. Using the Independent Sector’s value of volunteers ($19.51/hr), the contribution of Master Gardeners to Yavapai County communities was $216,541 for the year.

Some of our 2007 highlights were initiating a Master Gardener Speaker’s Bureau and a mentoring program for Associate Master Gardeners to help them become certified. Ongoing projects included service to three school garden projects, two museums, one hospital, and educational displays and answers to horticultural questions at 19 public events. We also held monthly Master Gardener Association (MGA) meetings where guest speakers share expertise and provide continuing education. These meetings are typically attended by 40-50 Master Gardeners (they are not open to the public though).

As the Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, I stay fairly busy and rely heavily on Master Gardeners to assist the public with insect identification and management, plant diseases, and general horticultural information. In 2007, Yavapai County Master Gardeners provided information to 2,339 county residents through face-to-face interactions, 1,240 residents by phone, and 110 via e-mail. The Speaker’s Bureau also gave 11 presentations to various community groups. Master Gardeners are an important resource to Yavapai County communities.

Of course, it takes many good people to have a successful volunteer program, but I’d like to recognize a few of our key players. Eunice Ricklefs of Prescott was the 2007 MGA President and Jeannette Teets of Camp Verde is the current MGA President. Camp Verde Master Gardener, Nora Graf, has edited our monthly newsletter, Yavapai Gardens, for over 12 years. The back issues of Yavapai Gardens are archived on our web site going back to 2000 ( Mary Barnes of Chino Valley is the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator. Mary also co-authored a peer-reviewed presentation with me that was presented to Western Region County Agents and will be presented to the National Association of County Agricultural Agents this summer in Greensboro, North Carolina.

One of our current projects is organizing and fund raising for the Ninth Annual Arizona Highlands Garden Conference that will be held in Prescott October 13 and 14, 2008. We have confirmed several regional and national speakers for this excellent conference. More information will be made available in the coming months and anyone wishing to help sponsor this event should contact one of our offices at 928-445-6590 or 928-646-9113.

Meanwhile, if you have gardening questions, talk to a Master Gardener. Their contact information is shown below. If you would like to talk to a Master Gardener face-to-face, our Cottonwood office is located at 2657 Village Drive in Verde Village near the intersection of Hwy 260 and Western Drive. Master Gardeners are usually available to serve you Monday through Thursday between 9 am and 3 pm.

People often ask me if I am a Master Gardener and the answer is always “no”. I get paid for what I do and Master Gardeners are volunteers making a difference in Yavapai County. I will likely become a Master Gardener after I retire, but until then I just do my best to support this bright, energetic and fun group of volunteers!

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has publications and information on gardening and pest control. If you have other gardening questions, call the Master Gardener line in the Cottonwood office at 646-9113 ext. 14 or E-mail us at and be sure to include your address and phone number. Find past Backyard Gardener columns or submit column ideas at the Backyard Gardener web site:

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Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr. #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Last Updated: April 28, 2008
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