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Gardening: Master Gardeners' Month Image

June was proclaimed "Master Gardener Volunteer Appreciation Month" by the Galveston County Commissioners' Court during their regular weekly session on Wednesday, June 6. Pictured (left to right) are Commissioners Bryan Lamb and Patrick Doyle, William Johnson, Commissioner Stephen Holmes, Master Gardeners Jim Edwards and Anna Wygrys, and Commissioner Ken Clark.

Photo Credit: Herman Auer

June proclaimed Master Gardener Appreciation Month

By Dr. William M. Johnson, Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

June 15, 2007

Gardeners by nature are great people and our Galveston County Master Gardener volunteers exemplify the very best in unselfishly providing volunteer service that benefits the general public.

In recognition of their volunteer service and impact over the past 25 years, June was proclaimed "Master Gardener Volunteer Appreciation Month" by the Galveston County Commissioners' Court during their regular weekly session on Wednesday, June 6.

The Galveston County Master Gardener program was started in 1982 and we are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. We are the second oldest county Master Gardener program in the State of Texas. The number of counties implementing Master Gardener programs has grown significantly over the years and currently there are more than 100 Texas counties with Master Gardener programs.

Who are the Master Gardener volunteers? They are community volunteers who are trained by Texas A&M University Extension faculty and who serve as educators with the Galveston County Extension Office. Volunteers complete an intensive eight-week horticultural training course; in return, they assist the County Extension Office with conducting a variety of educational programs on horticulture.

While a primary activity of Master Gardeners has been to address gardening questions at the County Extension Office, our Master Gardener program is very diversified in its outreach, reflecting the skills and individuality of the volunteers. They provide information about planning and maintaining urban, suburban, and rural landscapes emphasizes environmental stewardship. In fact, our strong emphasis on the proper use of insecticides, herbicides and other types of pesticides and proper fertilization techniques have a direct impact of the health of our Galveston Bay ecosystem.

Many Master Gardeners also provide a diverse variety of educational programs on horticulture for our community residents. Master Gardeners provide seminars as part of our Gulf Coast Gardening Saturday Seminar Series to meet the growing number of requests for additional educational programs. Master Gardeners also provide 85+ educational programs annually for local organizations including garden clubs, civic clubs, and libraries.

We also conduct a Junior Master Gardener program for grades 3-5 at Rosenberg Elementary in Galveston. The Junior Master Gardener program engages children in novel, 'hands-on' group and individual learning experiences that promote a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment and cultivate the mind. The Junior Master Gardener curriculum contains dozens of hands-on activities to explore the natural world with activities that develop critical thinking skills and encourage leadership development, personal pride, responsibility, and community involvement.

Master Gardeners assist with updating our website which contains a treasure of information on horticulture. Our website has been an expanding resource for county residents as well people from across the nation. Our website "visits" or "hits" have increased from 4,000 during the first month when it was first introduced to over 310,000 website visits or hits during May 2007. If you have not yet visited our website, use the website address or URL provided at the end of this column to peruse the wide variety of information useful for this area. We also welcome your comments and feedback.

Several Master Gardeners have assisted in vegetation restoration along the seashore and along bayous. They also help reduce the solid waste problem by teaching people how to compost. Master Gardeners teach children's gardening classes that emphasize environmental stewardship and human nutrition. We have developed a well-recognized horticultural therapy training program.

The accomplishments of the Master Gardeners over the past 25 years are impressive. The ultimate end to all these activities is to protect and sustain natural resources and environmental systems, enhance the development of human resources, and improve the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible. Master Gardeners have become a vital part of the Galveston County Extension Office's ability to provide the public with up-to-date, reliable knowledge so they can enjoy and protect the value of the natural environment around their homes.

As you can see, the Master Gardener program is more than a horticulture class or a social club. It is a volunteer program that enables participants to serve their communities through horticultural education. It also promotes personal growth. Not only do Master Gardeners increase their knowledge of horticulture, but they also enhance communication, management, and leadership skills which can be used in all aspects of their lives.

Master Gardener volunteers have served Galveston County residents and communities very well over the past 25 years. For their outstanding support of the Galveston County Extension Office and their community sprit, I extend a "Tip of the Trowel" salute to our volunteers. The next time you meet a Master Gardener or speak with a Master Gardener through the telephone hotline at the County Extension Office, let them know of your appreciation for their many volunteer efforts also!

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at

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Gardening: Rose Propagation & Seasonal Decorating Workshops To Be Held - October 13, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29, Seasonal Decorations and Onion and Garlic Workshops - October 20, 2004 article

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Gardening: Gardeners' Checklist For January Includes Several Educational Programs - January 7, 2005 article

Gardening:Announcing the 2005 Galveston County Master Gardener Training - January 13, 2005 article

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Gardening: Gardening for Texas Wildlife - January 28, 2005 article

Gardening: Wide Variety of Citrus to Be Available at February 5 Fruit Tree Sale and Home Citrus Production - January 31, 2005 article

Gardening: Fruit Trees Of The Gods Featured In February 5 Master Gardener Plant Sale - February 2, 2005 article

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Gardening: March Gardening Calendar Includes Seminar On Butterfly Gardening - March 2, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Q&As From The Galveston Home & Garden Show - March 10, 2005 article

Gardening: Extension Offers Program On "Living To Be 100 . . . A Commonsense Approach." - March 16, 2005 article

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Gardening: Home Gardening Chores and May 14 Home Fruit Growers’ Tour - May 5, 2005 article

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