When the term “Master Gardener” was first coined in the early 1970’s to describe a new Extension program in Washington State, few could have predicted it would spread into Texas and blossom into one of the most effective volunteer organizations in the State.
The Texas Master Gardener program had its beginnings in 1978 in an Extension horticulture training program at Texas A&M University when Dr. Sam Cotner (Extension Vegetable Specialist) described the success of the movement in Washington State. At that time, county agents in the Texas Agricultural Extension Service were experiencing overwhelming demands for horticulture information, much like their colleagues in the Pacific Northwest.
The first Master Gardener class in Texas was held in 1979 in Montgomery County and drew about 25 people. The 50-hour course was held in the evenings and taught by Extension Agents and specialists from Texas A&M, using a manual compiled from Extension publications and news articles. Volunteer service was optional, but class members were encouraged to work on Extension projects.
Two more counties, Galveston and El Paso, started programs in 1981. By the end of the decade, five more counties had Master Gardener programs: Harris (1984), Dallas (1986),Tarrant (1987), Bexar (1989) and Denton (1989).
The Texas Agricutural Extension Service made an official commitment to a Texas Master Gardner program in 1987 with the hiring of a statewide coordinator. At that time, guidelines were developed for the program, including a minimum of 50 hours of formal training and 50 hours of volunteer service to become a certified Texas Master Gardener. The 500-page training handbook was completed in 1989.
"Plants are tested in your area before they sell them so you KNOW they will do well at your place. They are very knowledgeable and what they don’t know, they find out. They never leave you hanging. Great people"
- Jeez Joanne Louise
"Great local information. Good place to ask questions."
- Sherrie Steiger
"The camaraderie with like minded people, and always hearing new gardening ideas and being introduced to new plants. Learning there are lots of pitfalls to gardening, but always learning solutions to problems, and being encouraged by the many gardening successes of friends. It is an ongoing learning process that never ends."
- Joyce Flott
"Very much enjoyed the tree sale put on -- the people hosting were very knowledgeable and helpful. Got some wonderful trees from the event. Very organized and went smoothly -- lines were a little long checking out and their CC machine apparently went down, but I was able to pay by check and bypassed some of the lines. Could maybe have more cashiers to check out so the lines could go faster -- but got to meet new people while standing in line. Will attend again"
- Kathy Kyle Kleppel
"Staff were very informative and helpful. I got several items and will attend again. Think it would be helpful in the future to inform customers there are individual lines for cash/check, debit and credit cards."
- Jerrileen Taylor Lummus
"So excited to have discovered this amazing program so near to my home I cant wait to become master gardener myself...what an honor"
- Alonzo Lee Moore IV