Re: Any value in becoming a master gardener?

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The focus of the program is not job training. Although it seems that a good portion of Master Gardeners get hired in by garden centers around here.
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Being a "master gardener" isn't free labor. You pay THEM for the honor of getting sweaty and dirty. You need to provide your own clothes, equipment and transportation too!!!! There are few paying jobs in gardening because the "master gardeners" are taking them away!!!
The trainer gave you a blank stare because they don't care about giving you any practical information. They just want your money and unpaid labor.

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The general concensus amongst working professionals in my area (some of whom are certified MG's , some of whom are currently working towards certification as an MG, some of whom started the program and then left it, etc. IS, that it very much depends upon *where* you receive your training. Here in the metropolitan DC area, the Virginia MG program apparently is not highly regarded.
Dave

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Master Gardener is a fancy title the Extension Service hands out to people who volunteer their time in the community, promoting gardening. Many times, these people will do different tasks the Agent is supposed to do, but he/she dishes it out to the Master Gardeners.
In no way will they allow you to go through the program if you mention it's to help you with your career. Any people in the industry know it's a limited amount of knowledge in return for many hours of volunteer work. In order to be current and certified, you'd have to do a set amount of volunteer hours, annually.
I say go take a course in one of the horticulture sciences. Much better way to promote your ability and not a sham.
On Wed, 27 Aug 2003 06:20:52 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@adsfgh.com (dstvns) opined:

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Depends on the program, there is a lot of knowledge shared here.
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Not true in Denver. We welcome those in the green industry and benefit from their knowledge. They have the option of paying for a certificate stating that they have sucessfully completed MG training, but cannot call themselves MG's; or they can complete the training (paying only for supplies) and do their volunteer hours in return. They are then MG's but can use this title only when volunteering and not in their business. sed5555
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On 28 Aug 2003 06:06:10 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Sed5555) opined:

Not so in Texas or New York, where I went through the program in both states. What they want are terminal volunteers. People in the hort industry barely have time to sleep, let alone to volunteer. Now, I'm primarily talking about nursery workers or commercial growers. From late February till the end of July I ate, slept and worked. That was my schedule. No time to volunteer anything.
I still contend that, for furthering job possibilities in horticulture, a course or ten at a community college is superior to anything learned at the MG programs, no matter how great they are. In Tom's Extension, they may have a good one. At Cornell, where I went, they had a plausible one. In Texas, well, PU. All of it was to do the work the agent didn't want to do.
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the MG

have a

well,
Yes, you're right about the classes, of course, but here in the little dinky county I live in in Northern California we don't have the classes available. Nearest extension is 70 miles, and the local college just cancelled its viticulture program. So the MG program is the only thing we have.
Philip
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I don't know a LOT about the master gardener program but the RHS here in the UK are trialling a similar system over a samll area in conjunction with the BBC..
As a pro qualified Horticulturalist I have mixed feelings about these low level schemes.. I think if you wish to learn more about food production you might be better off joining a an Allotments or Horticultural Society (or US equivalent) and learning from other members, and maybe doing part time study at a higher level..
Not sure what the equivalents are but over here its fairly easy to start with a City and Guilds or NVQ in something Horticultural than via a volunteer scheme..
Just my 2p's worth! // Jim
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dstvns wrote:

From the point of view of a professional horticulturist in the state where the MG program was first developed, it is of NO benefit to establishing a professional career. The program was not intended for this purpose and to be blatantly honest, very few "graduates" have anything more than the most cursory horticultural knowledge. The program was intended to relieve the local extension agents of the huge amounts of gardening-related questions that pop up daily by offering free 'plant clinics' at local garden centers and nursery departments of larger discount and box stores. It has expanded in some areas to include other volunteer activities like reclaiming greenbelts of exotic invasives, demonstration gardens, planting of small pocket parks and traffic circles, etc.
If you wish to expand your own knowledge to a limited degree ( you can achieve as much or more with self-study) and like to volunteer and have the time to do so, then this is a good program to participate in. If you wish to enter the horticultural field in any professional capacity, then take the time to get proper training through a technical or community college or other accreditied institution. I know of few professionals in this biz that regard MG's with any kind of respect.
pam - gardengal
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The value depends on what you are planning on doing with it. If you are a home gardener and just want to learn a little to make your place look nicer, then do it. The program will not get you anywhere professionally, though the general gardening public may worship you for your title. To horticulturists, master gardener means very little, to the average retail nursery customer, they are almost equated with god for some reason. Take a class at a community college, you will probably learn more with less investments of time and money.
Toad
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The blank stair you got in lieu of an answer is typical of Master Gardeners. As you noted, even the hours you can participate sometimes assume only retirees with nothing better to do are interested. If you can find your way into the presence of ten master gardeners at once, at least a couple of them will be pretty damned smart about stuff -- but definitely not because they took that program, the main reward for which is social rather than educative.
When I first bought this house & had lots & lots of very basic gardening questions, I'd go to the saturday market where there'd be two or three master gardeners sitting amidst the vegetable stands, & I might have brought some bug, or a spotty leaf I was worried about, & I virtually never got a reply that was of any use. A typical reply would be, "It's too bad Jo'es not here today, I bet he'd know that!" By now, when I see master gardeners who've been permitted to set up camp at some nursery or at the market, I barely even wave hi from a distance. I think the only reason nurseries let them set up at all is because it is a nice thing to do for the sake of the master gardener community, who do at least buy plants from time to time.
One thing I've found local Master Gardeners good for is their eagerness to share starts of thigns from own gardens, usually common stuff that spreads rapidly, but a few heirloom things not really available otherwise. They're very generous in some regards.
The nursery workers 'round here never did the master gardener program, many have no special training of any sort, a few of the workers really are mentally ill & are rather like the retarded adults hired by restaurant owners to shiny up the tables & do the dishes. So getting general nursery work seems to be more who you get to know as a devoted gardener -- having taken a Master Gardener course would neither add to nor subtract from opportunities in retail . . . which, when you think of it, is scarsely horticultural work at all, unless the retailer is simultaneously a grower. I've been offered nursery work without wanting any, on the basis of being able to answer simple questions at random, being a bit of a nursery-nurd, & by having friends who manage nurseries who would rather hire someone they know. I always turn these down, but it's kind of good to know that I, no less than some pleasant but retarded adult, could in a financial crisis probably at least score a job shuffling potted perennials, sticking bareroot briars in sawdust, & keeping everything moist.
But once you get beyond the category of retail nursery laborer, what will be required for serious horticultural work is having gotten the requisit degrees through university courses, NOT attending spare-time social events for little-old-ladies-in-tennis-shoes. By the time you're doing an authentic internship at an experimental gardening station, you'll honestly know your stuff. But expecting to get a good job as a horticulturalist from an insta-course would be like expecting to get a job as a newspaper journalist because you once signed up for a writing workshop on how to keep a diary. Some things just have to be done for pleasure without higher expectation, & master gardener program is one of those things.
-paghat the ratgirl
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This question about becoming a Master Gardener has been asked before and as usual is being stomped on by this group. First, the name Master Gardener is a misnomer. There isn't enough training involved to learn much about anything. Hobby Gardeners or Friends of Gardening would be far more accurate titles.
Second, it will not prepare you for a job in horticulture although you would be a better candidate for a job in a horticulture center than a body hired off the street by management. At least you showed enough interest in plants to get some training, minimal as it is.
Third, your question about vegetable gardening to a trainer raises another interesting question. How many people do you know who actually have a vegetable garden beyond a couple of tomatoes and a pepper plant or two? I regularly complain whenever I watch "Victory Garden" on PBS about the totally impractical/cutesy stuff they air. Most people now think of gardening as raising flowers, shrubs, grasses, and ornamental trees. (Heaven help this country if people ever had to return to a society where they had to raise their own food.)
Fourth, contributing to your area through volunteer work is a plus or minus, depending upon your viewpoint. If you have the time and inclination to work in your local park or other public areas and enjoy getting dirty and sweaty occasionally, it can be a relaxing and rewarding experience. If you think you are taking away jobs from Joe Public, don't. Our local park has a native wildflower area, a 19th century herb/vegetable garden, and a beautiful planting of native, flowering shrubs done by local Master Gardeners. (Most of these are projects that would never have been completed or maintained without free labor.)
Finally, becoming a Master Gardener does have a lot of personal pluses. It puts you in contact with people with a similar hobby/interest and that includes vegetable gardening. Many Master Gardener groups have enough people with diverse gardening interests that there is something for everyone. As much as there are sneers about common items that spread rapidly being swapped or given away by Master Gardeners, such items as winter jasmine, salvia leucantha, salvia guaranitica (blue and purple), several viburnum varieties, little leafed lilacs, double altheas, hydrangeas, thornless blackberries, etc. now are part of my yard because of these swaps. In turn I share tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, and beans as well as started cuttings from a snowball bushes, pussy willow, kerria, honeycomb buddleia, crape myrtlettes, and beauty berry bush, and small redbuds that appear in my flower beds. If anything invasive arrives for swap, the swap table "police person" gives a warning to everyone. As an added bonus, we regularly pay guest speaker experts to give presentations at regular or special interest meetings.
I find that the Master Gardener group is a plus for me. Most but not all Master Gardeners are great people, but there are some one avoids because they're obnoxious. The same can be said for this ng! :)
I'm sure I'll get sneering, stomping remarks make about my analysis from certain individuals, but I enjoy the contacts in the MG group.
John
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wrote:

Not from here John. It so happens that the training here is quite good. Yes in some cases it produces some know it alls who know little about gardening, but generally the program has provided some really nice folks who do some great community service projects in horticulture. (BTW they cringe at the idea of me joining, I wonder why? LOL
I look forward to my yearly lecture to the group.
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they do.

I can well understand why the group cringes about having YOU as a member, Tom, <VBSEG>, but thanks for the kind words. People who are willing to disturb the status quo are a distinct asset to any group.
John
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Don't worry about starting a flame thread, Dan. This has been a Big Bertha bell pepper in mildness. The "usual suspects" did their stomping and are now happier people. ;-) They bolstered their egos by venting their spleen, which is normal for them.
I think you're wise in not taking the training at this point. It probably won't help you get a job, and the training in vegetable gardening is too basic and abbreviated to help much. You already seem to know your way around in vegetable gardening, and it doesn't appear that you have the time for more, in-depth training at the moment.
As I mentioned earlier, the MG training and group is more for the hobby gardener. It puts one in contact with people who have a similar interest, and you probably would enjoy it on that basis.
Good luck and happy gardening.....
John
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If you just want to socialize and fritter away your time, it would be much cheaper if you started a garden club in you area and you all sat around and talked about plants and gardens while sipping tea and munching on crullers!!!! You can even have real gardening experts come and speak before your group!!!

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On Fri, 29 Aug 2003 22:33:16 GMT, "Cereoid-UR12-"

Yeah maybe some cactus collectors could talk about robbing third world countries of their flora!
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Tomski, If you had a brain , you would be an idiot!!!
Where do you think all those landscape plants you have come from? You steal all your plants from your neighbors yards?
wrote:

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I get this alot from customers. They will ask you an honest question and when they dont like the answer, they pull the master gardener bit out of thier ass. This tends to make me have even less respect for the person rather than make me think higher of them as they had hoped.
Toad
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