Extension Master Gardeners are part of a nationwide network of horticultural enthusiasts who have become trained volunteer educators in partnership with the Cooperative Extension programs of land-grant universities. Virginia Tech and Virginia State University are the commonwealth’s land-grant universities, and there are Cooperative Extension offices in every county in Virginia, including Fluvanna.
We've Got History!
Launched by Congress in 1872, land-grant universities were designated to educate citizens in agricultural and mechanical fields, with research added to the mission 15 years later. Congress then added the Cooperative Extension programs in 1914 to share the results of the research with the greater community. Begun in 1972, the nationwide Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program shares research-based horticultural information with individuals and families.
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), started the EMG program in the commonwealth in 1979. The EMG programs fall under the VCE responsibilities for Agriculture and Natural Resources which also serve the local farm community. In addition, EMGs cooperate in VCE programs in Family and Consumer Science, 4-H Youth Development, and Community Viability. Active citizen participation is foundational to the efforts of the VCE, with funding provided by the federal, state, and county governments.
Seeds That Produce
Becoming an EMG begins with a sincere interest in growing things. Whether it be decorative plants, vegetables, fruits, or trees, best practices are important to get satisfying results. Trial and error, individual research, and sharing observations and experiences with like-minded people eventually lead to accepting the personal challenge of study in the EMG program. It’s the beginning of what often becomes a fulfilling lifetime commitment.
Master Gardeners volunteer on behalf of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Upon the completion of the initial 50 hours of training, there is a year to complete 50 hours of volunteer work on approved projects to receive the designation of Extension Master Gardener. For each successive year, there is a requirement of 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education. Through education and the application of training, EMGs are enabled to help other members of the local community solve horticultural problems and encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices.
The greater Fluvanna area has become a magnet for new residents, many of whom are unfamiliar with the grasses, shrubs, trees, soil, and pests of this specific microenvironment. The EMG’s experience and training are a welcome and valuable resource for the many neighbors. Moreover, EMGs share the ongoing enjoyment of unique camaraderie, and a fulfilling sense of community spirit, accomplishment, and intellectual stimulation of being an Extension Master Gardener.