The Master Gardener program is an all-volunteer organization sanctioned by Land Grant institutions in each state and functions as an extension of the college or university. In Wisconsin, the program is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who aid University of Wisconsin-Extension staff by helping people in the community better understand horticulture and their environment.
The seed for the Master Gardener (MG) program was planted in 1972 by Washington State Cooperative Extension. MG volunteers were trained to extend Extension’s outreach to community residents in educating people about horticulture. The MG program began in Wisconsin through the UW-Extension in the late 1970’s. Local MG groups banded together in 1992 to form the Wisconsin Master Gardener Association (WIMGA).
The individual UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) is, of course, the focus of the MG program. Every person who has taken training and completed their volunteer hour commitment is a certified MGV. Individuals may become a member of their Local Association (if there is one in their area) and both individuals and local associations are encouraged to be members of the State Association (the WIMGA). The MG Program Office provides support to all MGs, both individual MGVs and local associations, and works closely with the WIMGA. Horticulture and other staff in the local UW-Extension Offices around the state also work closely with the MG program.
The goal of the MG Program is to train enthusiastic volunteers so they can, in turn, provide research-based information on a wide variety of horticultural topics to the general public in their communities.