What is the Master Gardener Program?

History of WCMGA
Becoming a Member
Community Service
Benefits of Membership
Annual Report

History of WCMGA

The Master Gardener program is a service organization.  Horticulture training is provided with the expectation that Master Gardeners will share their knowledge to the benefit of their community.  The Master Gardener movement originated in the State of Washington in 1972 and has since spread to 48 states including Wisconsin. 

The Wisconsin Master Gardener program was created by the University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension in response to requests from home gardeners for horticultural information.  Associations are formed within counties and work with an advisor who is on the staff of the local UW-Extension office.  In 1990, the Winnebago County UW-Extension took steps to form a Master Gardener association in Winnebago County.  In 1992, a horticulturist was hired as an advisor to the association and to further develop the program.  The association has been thriving ever since.  Today, the Winnebago County Agriculture Agent serves as the advisor to the organization.

Becoming a Member

Individuals interested in becoming a certified Master Gardener must initially complete 36 hours of general horticultural training with UW-Extension specialists, faculty and local experts.  This training is offered over a 12-week period each year and includes topics such as soils, botany, entomology, plant pathology, houseplants, landscaping, turf, vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants. The cost of the training includes instructional and resource materials that participants keep.  See Master Gardener Classes, Seminars and Trips for more information.  

When training is completed, the next step is to perform a minimum of 24 hours of volunteer service in the first year to establish certification.  To remain certified, each Master Gardener must complete the minimum 24 hours of volunteer service annually on Winnebago County Master Gardener approved projects.  Volunteer hours can also be accumulated through service on the Master Gardener board or committees or by attending membership, committee and board meetings.  Continuing Master Gardeners must also participate in at least 10 hours of additional training annually.  The Winnebago County Master Gardener Education Committee schedules workshops, seminars and trips throughout the year that count as training hours.

How to Become a Member

Community Service

Winnebago County Master Gardner Association service projects must be approved by the board and have a chairperson to take the lead and organize activities.  The list changes some from year-to-year as new projects are proposed or older projects are completed or no longer needed.  However, several of the current projects have been ongoing since the Association was organized.

New Master Gardeners may only participate in established projects to accumulate the necessary 24 volunteer hours during their first year of service.  In later years the board may approve individual projects if they benefit the community by increasing horticulture knowledge and enhancing public spaces.

Benefits of Membership

By joining the Winnebago County Master Gardener Association, you gain new opportunities for serving your community and learning about horticulture.  You will also meet other members who share you passion for gardening and enjoy putting their knowledge to work for the community.  The Winnebago County Master Gardner Association meets monthly to conduct business, learn and socialize.  A monthly newsletter is emailed to all members.  As a member of the local association, you automatically become part of the Wisconsin Master Gardener Association and are linked to an even larger network of Master Gardeners throughout the state.  You will receive a newsletter that lists gardening events around the state and includes informative articles by UW-Extension specialists and faculty.  The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association sponsors an annual meeting and conference that includes educational workshops.

2015 Annual Report