The MSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an adult horticulture education and volunteer leader training program committed to improving the quality horticulture-based volunteerism and beautifying communities throughout the state.
The original Extension Master Gardener Program was created at Washington State University in 1972. Today, Master Gardener programs are offered across the nation as well as in nine Canadian provinces and South Korea. For an overall perspective of the national program, refer to the following document: EMG_National_Report_2016.pdf
Michigan State University Extension offered its first Master Gardener Program in 1978. Since this time, over 31,000 residents from 77 Michigan counties have been involved in the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program. In 2016, 3,991 Extension Master Gardener volunteers provided over 170,380 volunteer hoursand reported an additional 397,410 contacts with Michigan citizens. Through their volunteer outreach, EMGs shared science-based, environmentally-sound gardening knowledge and engaged citizens and empowered communities in the following areas:
While direct impacts are difficult to measure, using data established by the Independent Sector, the economic value of these volunteer hours equates to over $4.01 M. The value of miles driven (880,735 miles) in support of volunteer educational outreach equates to an additional $123,303 contribution. In total, the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program’s economic contribution to the State of Michigan in 2016 was $4.14 M! 2016_Statewide_Summary_Report.pdf
Being in the Master Gardener Program requires only an enthusiasm for gardening and a willingness and commitment to volunteer. Applicants attend training classes to learn basic horticulture principles and environmentally sound practices. Once they complete at least 40 hours of community-based service, they earn the title of certified Extension Master Gardener.
Through continued education, knowledge sharing and creation of more livable communities, the MGP continues to make the Great Lakes State one of the most diversely beautiful states in the country.