Information on the Oklahoma Master Gardener Program
The Oklahoma program originated in 1978 in its most urbanized county – Oklahoma. Since that time, training programs have been conducted in approximately 23 communities around the state, some on an annual basis and others less frequently. As of spring, 1998, 3,051 individuals have received the Oklahoma Master Gardener certification contributing over 180,865 volunteer hours of service valued at a conservative $ 2,170,380.00 to University Extension.
In addition, Master Gardeners have reached over 637,097 Oklahomans through phone replies, office visits, and some 836 educational programs taught by certified Master Gardeners.
Oklahoma Master Gardeners are trained, supervised and recruited to:
Improve overall efficiency in providing one-on-one service to the non-commercial horticulture clientele in the county,
Provide group learning and teaching activities for non-commercial clientele,
Allow agents to develop proactive Extension programs,
Form a group of Extension volunteers to support additional consumer horticulture efforts.
Training never ceases for the certified Master Gardener. Many counties continue with monthly planning and training meetings. These meetings are used to organize volunteer activities and offer further specialized training or tours.
Volunteers in the Master Gardener Program gain useful training and skills to benefit them personally as gardeners. In addition, they are able to interact with other gardening enthusiasts, help other county residents, and develop a resource base of information.
The first twenty years of service from the Master Gardener volunteer program has proven to be a highly popular means of extending the knowledge of the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service to the residents of Oklahoma. Through the innovative program, Extension has reached out to more people and groups. At the same time, the program has significantly affected professional staff's use of time. The Oklahoma Master Gardener program has begun to demonstrate clearly that volunteers can serve as excellent educators at the local level in consumer horticulture.