JULY 24, 2003


Victoria County Master Gardener

Numerous inquiries about Master Gardener training and certification have prompted this information article. Supporting various educational programs sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension’s network of county offices, research and Extension centers, and academic departments, Master Gardeners and Extension faculty share a commitment to enhancing Texas horticulture and environmental programs. Master Gardeners enable Extension to expand educational programs in youth development, environmental stewardship, water conservation, and leadership development.

The Master Gardener program began in Texas in 1979 in Montgomery County. Today there are programs in 110 Texas counties with 5,500 trained and certified volunteers. The Victoria County Master Gardener program began in 1988, has trained 84 Master Gardeners of which 69 remain certified and active. The Victoria County Master Gardener Association (VCMGA) became incorporated as a not-for-profit entity in the state of Texas in 2000, and has been recognized as a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation by the Internal Revenue Service since 2001. Victoria County Master Gardeners, by completing the required course of study and volunteer hours for certification - and annual re-certification, also have the distinction of being Texas Master Gardeners.

Beginning August 14, 2003, Victoria County Extension will offer its seventh year of teaching a sixteen-week Master Gardening Class. The classes will be on each Thursday from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM with the last class ending on December 4, 2003. The cost of the class is $125.00, which includes a Master Gardener Handbook, a comprehensive book detailing management of various landscape and horticultural aspects about gardening.

The classes are taught by Texas Cooperative Extension Specialists, County Extension agents, Texas A&M University System professors and local experts including Master Gardeners. Some of the classes and topics for 2003 include:

· A basic course in Botany

· Pruning landscape ornamentals

· Plant propagation methods

· Interior plant care

· Tropical plants for Victoria

· Insect identification and control

· Vegetable gardening using organic and Integrated Pest Management methods

· Plant disease diagnosis and management

· Pesticide safety and environmental quality

· Water gardening

· Living with urban wildlife

· Working with Victoria soils

· Turf grass varieties and Weeds and their control

· Perennial Garden Color and Roses

· Trees for the urban homeowner

· Typical tree problems

·Fruit and nut trees for Victoria County

· Landscaping with native and adapted plants and Old Garden Roses

· Additionally, other subjects will be included as the course continues.

The course also features a tour of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Gardens plus a tour of the Mercer Arboretum near Houston.

Speakers for the various topics range from District Extension Entomologist Dr. Roy Parker to Skip Richter, Travis County Extension Horticulture Agent, to Caroline Reinhardt, Horticulturist with Evergreen Plant Care, Inc. of Houston. Also scheduled are Texas A&M University Professor Fred Davies who has written books on plant propagation and Bill Welch, Extension Horticulturist who also has authored numerous landscape books. Anita Nelson, owner of Nelson Water Gardens of Houston; Karen Woodard, Regional Forester with the Texas Forest Service, Dr. Robert Ferry, local Botanist, researcher and writer; Paul Locher, Landscape Architect; and our own Janie Varley, Victoria County Master Gardener, are some more of the confirmed speakers.

If accepted into the Master Gardener program in Victoria County, you will be expected to attend all classes and fulfill a volunteer commitment of 50 hours. In exchange for training, participants are asked to volunteer time to their County Extension program. At least 50 hours of volunteer service within one year following the training is required to earn the title of "Master Gardener". Volunteer service for Master Gardeners varies according to community needs, and the abilities and interests of the Master Gardeners. Some Master Gardener volunteer service includes answering calls with gardening questions at the Extension Office, staffing gardening information booths, gardening talks, and designing landscaping at various sites. As representatives of Texas Cooperative Extension, an educational group of the Texas A&M University System, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of the Texas Cooperative Extension in all volunteer work related to the program.

Is the Master Gardener Program for you? If you answer yes to these questions, the Master Gardener Program could be for you! · Do I want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants? · Am I eager to participate in a practical and intensive horticultural training program? · Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge with people in my community? · Do I have enough time to attend training and to complete the volunteer work?

Study and think about the above questions. If you can make the commitments as outlined above, call the Texas Cooperative Extension - Victoria County at (361) 575-4581 and request additional information from Joe Janak, County Extension Agent –AG/NR or Vikki Fitzpatrick, Ag Secretary.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas cooperating. Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodations in order to participate in this meeting are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office at 361/575-4581 to determine how reasonable accommodations can be made. The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Cooperative Extension Service is implied.