The Idaho Master Gardener Program—Diverse, Different, and Meeting Local Needs

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  • 1 Univ. of Idaho, Jerome County Extension, Jerome, ID 83338
  • | 2 Univ. of Idaho, Ada County Extension, Boise, ID 83714
  • | 3 Univ. of Idaho, Payette County Extension, Payette, ID 83661
  • | 4 Univ. of Idaho, Ada County Extension, Boise, ID 83714

Master Gardener training was first offered in Idaho in 1976. Univ. of Idaho (U of I) Master Gardener trainings are held in various counties and organized by county extension faculty. The number of Master Gardeners in Idaho is estimated at 1800. In 1993, U of I published the first edition of the Idaho Master Gardener Handbook. This 23-chapter state-specific handbook is revised annually. The first chapter outlines the Idaho Master Gardener guidelines. These were the first statewide guidelines. The Idaho program requires a minimum of 30 hours of classes and 30 hours of practicum/hands-on training (the volunteer commitment). Certification is received after these requirements are met and is good for one year. Annual recertification is provided through participation in Advanced Master Gardener trainings and activities. These recertification programs differ; depending on wants and needs within Idaho. The U of I Horticulture Programming Topic Team loosely organizes all county efforts, but there is no statewide Master Gardener program in Idaho. Each region and county brings a unique framework to the title Master Gardener. Hands-on training in many counties includes problem solving services to phone and office visiting clients. Other horticultural community and extension projects are the balance of the hands on hours. Idaho Master Gardeners also serve as uniquely qualified educators in a state as geographically diverse as Idaho. In 2001, the Idaho Junior Master Gardener Program began in cooperation with Idaho Master Gardeners and Texas A&M Univ.. Over 2000 youth and 200 adults have been involved in Idaho.

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