Master Gardeners donate thousands of hours of volunteer time to their communities. The following list highlights some outstanding local activities and several projects that involve Master Gardeners from all over the United States.
Plant a Row for the Hungry
Plant A Row was started in 1994 through the Garden Writers Association of America (GWAA) with the goal of having home gardeners intentionally plant extra food to send to the local food bank. Today, at least 44 states and several Canadian provinces have networks in place for Plant a Row. Here in Illinois, PAR projects are under way in Kenilworth, Naperville, Peoria, Riverside, South Elgin, Springfield, Sycamore, Rockford and Urbana- to name just a few. We would like to encourage participation among our units/counties, officially making PAR a statewide project.
Therapeutic horticulture is the use of live plants and horticultural activities to improve a person's mental, physical or spiritual aspects of life. Groups for whom therapeutic horticulture has proven to be beneficial include people who are physically disabled, mentally ill, developmentally disabled, elderly, substance abusers, public offenders and socially disadvantaged. Therapeutic horticulture has been found to increase self-esteem; alleviate depression; improve motor skills; help with problem solving and work adjustment, social interaction, and communication. Therapy has also been shown to help recipients learn marketable horticultural and business skills. For more information, visit the American Horticultural Therapy Association.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. Habitat for Humanity has built more than 85,000 houses around the world, providing more than 425,000 people in more than 2,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. HFH was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda. Master Gardeners lend their expertise and help in landscaping and gardening these new homes.
Junior Master Gardener
The Junior Master Gardener program was designed by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service as a new and innovative 4-H gardening project for youth. The program is modeled after the adult Master Gardener project and offers horticulture and environmental science education through fun and creative individual and group activities. Junior Master Gardeners learn to explore their world and develop leadership, personal pride and responsibility while making a positive contribution to their community, school and family.
American Community Gardening Association
American Community Gardening Association and its member organizations work to promote and support all aspects of community food and ornamental gardening, urban forestry, preservation and management of open space, and integrated planning and management of developing urban and rural lands.
National Extension Master Gardener Program
The Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program was started in 1972 in Washington state. Dr. David Gibby trained volunteers with a passion for gardening to assist Extension with consumer horticulture education in the community. This unique volunteer program has become internationally recognized and often duplicated as a model for other volunteer programs. Today, Extension Master Gardener programs exist in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, several Canadian provinces, and South Korea.
Extension Master Gardener National Committee
The Extension Master Gardener National Committee (EMGNC) provides a national focus and contact point for the nationwide Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program and the various state efforts in Extension Consumer Horticulture.
The EMGNC facilitates inclusion of county and state gardening information in eXtension; provides a channel for contacting, funding, and training EMGs to be front line detectors/information providers on national, critical issues related to home yards and landscapes; facilitates national collaboration to avoid redundancy in development of educational materials, and expedites collaboration with federal agencies, funders and professional organizations for input and funding for national issues and priorities.