Master Gardening in Yavapai County - November 16, 2011
Jeff Schalau, Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of 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. Master Gardeners are knowledgeable volunteers that have completed a comprehensive horticultural training course and extend that information to others through volunteer service in their communities. 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, Master Gardeners must complete 50 hours of volunteer service within a year of taking the course to become “Certified”. Master Gardeners maintain certification by volunteering at least 25 hours and completing 6 hours of continuing education per year. Volunteer opportunities are numerous. Master Gardeners assist me by answering questions from the public on our two office hotlines. Some other volunteer activities include: staffing booths at fairs and community events; assisting with school and community gardens; special educational projects; organizing conferences; fundraising; and providing educational presentations to diverse public groups. Of course, they do all these activities without compensation and do not use their Master Gardener title for personal gain.

We have 167 active Master Gardeners in Yavapai County. Some of our 2011 highlights were providing technical assistance to seven community gardens, presenting the 11th Annual Arizona Highlands Garden Conference in October, our Monsoon Madness Fundraising Sale, and mentoring Associate Master Gardeners to help them become certified. Another huge ongoing project is the on-line Yavapai County Native and Naturalized Plant database that has photos and descriptions of 348 trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and forbs. See it at: We also hold 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.

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 2010, Yavapai County Master Gardeners documented 13,995 hours of service. Using the Independent Sector’s value of volunteer service ($20.85/hr), the contribution of Master Gardeners to Yavapai County communities was $291,796 for the year. This reached 2,916 county residents through face-to-face consulting, 1,099 residents by phone, and 204 via e-mail. The Speaker’s Bureau also gave 44 presentations to various community groups that reached 992 residents. As you can see, Master Gardeners are an important horticultural resource to Yavapai County communities.

Of course, it takes many good people to sustain a successful Master Gardener program, but I’d like to recognize a few of our key players. Eric Downing of Prescott Valley was the 2011 Master Gardener Association President. Camp Verde Master Gardener, Nora Graf, has edited our monthly newsletter, Yavapai Gardens, for over 16 years. Mary Barnes of Chino Valley serves as the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator. The back issues of Yavapai Gardens and more information about the Yavapai County Master Gardener Program are available on our website:

So, if you have gardening questions, talk to a Master Gardener. Their contact information is included below. If you would like to talk to a Master Gardener face-to-face, our Cottonwood office is located at 2830 N Commonwealth Dr, Suite 103 near the Camp Verde Justice Facility. We also have an office in Prescott on the Rodeo Grounds. Master Gardeners are usually available to serve you Monday through Thursday between 9 am and 3 pm (we are closed during the noon hour at both offices). Master Gardeners are devoted volunteers that truly make a difference in Yavapai County and they look forward to serving you!

Between February 8 and May 16, 2012, another 40 Associate Master Gardeners will begin the 15-week training course each Wednesday morning for 3 ˝ hours at Camp Verde High School. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is teaching and coordinating the Master Gardener training. Applications for the 2012 Master Gardener Training Course are available now on our website at:

Follow the Backyard Gardener on Twitter – use the link on the BYG website. If you have other gardening questions, call the Master Gardener line in the Camp Verde office at 928-554-8999 Ext. 3 or e-mail us at and be sure to include your name, address and phone number. Find past Backyard Gardener columns or provide feedback 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: November 21, 2011
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