The original Extension Master Gardener Program was created at Washington State University in 1972. Today, Master Gardener programs are offered across the nation as well as in nine Canadian provinces and South Korea. For perspective of the national program, refer to the following document: EMG_National_Report_2016.pdf

Michigan State University Extension offered its first Master Gardener Program in 1978. Since this time, more than 31,000 residents from more than 77 Michigan counties have been involved in the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program. In 2015, 3,441 Extension Master Gardener volunteers provided over 162,818 volunteer hours and reported an additional 336,449 contacts with Michigan citizens.  Through their volunteer outreach, EMGs shared science-based gardening knowledge and engaged citizens and empowered communities in environmentally responsible gardening practices, improving food security, improving community, and developing youth through gardening. While direct impacts are difficult to measure, according to the Independent Sector, the economic value of these volunteer hours equates to over $3.76 M. The value of miles driven2 (802,148 miles) in support of volunteer educational outreach equates to an additional $112,300 contribution. In total, the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program’s economic contribution to the State of Michigan in 2015 was $3.87 M.

Being in the Master Gardener Program requires only an enthusiasm for gardening and a willingness and commitment to volunteer. Applicants attend training classes to learn basic horticulture principles and environmentally sound practices. Once they complete at least 40 hours of community-based service, they earn the title of certified Extension Master Gardener.

Through continued education, knowledge sharing and creation of more livable communities, the MGP continues to make the Great Lakes State one of the most diversely beautiful states in the country.


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