Your Commitment as a Volunteer
Once the trainee has successfully completed the training program and has become an intern, he or she may begin their volunteer service requirement. Master Gardeners bring a wealth of different knowledge and experiences to their programs. Volunteer hours may reflect these interests and program coordinators will help to utilize these strengths when setting up programs and organizing volunteers. The primary criteria in determining what counts as volunteer time is that the activity must be educational, be within the scope of the mission of the Extension Service and not result in individual financial gain for the volunteer. The final decision regarding volunteer service hours is left up to the discretion of local Master Gardener programs.
Common Master Gardener Volunteer Projects
The following are just a few examples of jobs done by Master Gardeners:
- Create and maintain demonstration gardens.
- Conduct gardening programs for school-age children, senior citizens or disabled persons.
- Perform home-based garden research testing new varieties or gardening techniques.
- Participate in informational booths, clinics or speakers bureaus.
- Give talks or classes to groups interested in horticulture.
- Answer telephone questions at the County Extension Office.
- Assist in the production of newsletters, web pages or handbooks.
- Help to mentor new Master Gardeners.
Reporting Volunteer Hours
It is the responsibility of each individual Master Gardener to record and report his/her volunteer hours. Completion of these reports is crucial to continued administrative support and funding for the Master Gardener program. Since the Master Gardener program is part of University Extension, funds are received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Illinois and local county governments. An individual's hours reporting may seem insignificant, but when the efforts of thousands of volunteers statewide are totaled, there are more than a million dollars worth of service reported annually.