Interested in becoming a Hernando County Master Gardener? Call 754-4433 or email Donnab@hernandocounty.us, to add your name to the prospective Master Gardener email contact list.
The horticulture agent recruits and manages a cadre of 65-70 volunteers who help support the various Extension educational programs. Major Master Gardener activities include:
- Plant Clinics at the Extension Office and Lowes in Spring Hill
- Weekly work sessions at various Extension demonstration garden sites
- Monthly training meetings. Meetings are 3 hours in length and address topics related to environmental landscape management.
- 4-H related educational opportunities
- Opportunities to provide education to homeowners' associations, and other groups
- Educational field trips and seminars
More information on the Master Gardener Program
This 12 week course prepares volunteers to help disseminate horticultural information to homeowners.
Volunteers are exposed to environmentally sound horticultural practices that will help to reduce the large inputs of water, fertilizer and pesticides.
History of the Master Gardener Program
The Florida Master Gardener Program began in 1979. It is part of the Extension Service of the University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in cooperation with the USDA and county governments. Florida Master Gardeners receive professional training in exchange for volunteering and sharing IFAS based information about Florida gardening.
Currently, there are training programs in all 67 Florida counties and over 3,400 active Florida Master Gardeners. Hernando County has trained Master Gardeners since 1987. Currently, Hernando County has approximately 80 active volunteer Master Gardeners filling a variety of roles and services. In previous years these volunteers:
- Staffed the phones and plant clinics at the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Office in Brooksville and at the Spring Hill Lowes on US 19.
- Enhanced horticultural education in local schools by sharing information with students and actively taught gardening skills via school demonstration gardens. They also assisted with the 4-H youth program by leading classes in environmental education such as Jr. Birding, Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program and Forest Ecology
- Designed and maintained various community garden demonstration projects
Requirements of Master Gardener volunteers:
- Commitment to volunteering 75 hours a year the first year of service and 35 hours a year every year thereafter, and willingness to share gardening information with people of Hernando County
- Time to spend volunteering and attending monthly meetings, field trips and training sessions
- Love of gardening and the desire to learn and practice Florida-friendly horticulture methods and to share this information with others.
- Eagerness to learn Florida horticulture by active participation in the intensive Master Gardener Training Course and commitment to learning via continuing education activities required to maintain certification
Why should I become a Florida Master Gardener Volunteer?
Master Gardeners help the community by:
- Improving the efficiency of the Extension Service and allowing agents to develop proactive programs
- Extending practical applications of UF/IFAS based research on gardening in Florida
- Learning and sharing principles and practices of Florida-friendly horticulture
- Volunteering to promote environmental awareness at a broad level
- Serving as ambassadors of goodwill for Hernando County and the State of Florida
Master Gardeners work with the local Extension Agent. Volunteer service varies according to the needs of this Extension Office and the individual's desires, skills and availability.
Training and Certification
What will I learn?
If you are accepted into the Master Gardener Training Program you will receive 78 hours of horticultural training in a 13 week course. The fee covers educational books from the University of Florida Press and other class expenses. The course is held one full day a week and has historically begun in May. The core areas include:
- Botany, entomology, pathology, soil management and plant nutrition
- Cultural methods of growing garden vegetables, fruit crops, trees, plants (including annuals, perennials, ornamentals, wildlife-attracting plants, natives) and turf in Hernando County
- Providing customer service
- Other related programs such as Florida Yards and Neighborhoods and 4-H
The program includes classroom training via lectures, multimedia presentations and group activities.
What am I expected to do in order to maintain my certification as a Master Gardener?
Volunteer a minimum of 75 hours the first year of service and 35 hours a year every year thereafter. Areas of volunteer service include but are not limited to, staffing plant clinics, answering residents' questions on the phone or in person, maintaining demonstration gardens, assisting with displays at public venues such as the county fair, teaching youth through schools or 4-H, speaking to clubs or civic organizations, etc.
- Attend Master Gardener monthly meetings, field trips and activities
- Complete at least 10 hours of continuing education/training per year .
For Further Information: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/
University of Florida Publication Web Site: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu
For a list of horticulture seminars, Timely Topics and Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Classes call 352-754-4433.
Master Gardeners are available in our Brooksville office 1653 Blaise Dr. Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.
Call (352) 754-4433 or stop by and one of our volunteers will be glad to help you figure out your lawn and garden dilemmas.
Interested in becoming a Hernando County Master Gardener? Call 754-4433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to add your name to the prospective Master Gardener email contact list.