Do you enjoy working with people? Are you interested in conducting outreach programs for the public on horticultural and environmental topics?

If so, you may be interested in applying for the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program, which is offered through the University of Georgia Extension.

The program, which was started in Atlanta, Georgia in 1979, is designed to help the University of Georgia Extension staff transfer research-based information about gardening and related subjects to the public by training home gardeners. Through this program, Cooperative Extension can reach out and serve more citizens with educational programming and demonstrations.

Volunteers help many roles in aiding the local county extension office in the delivery of horticultural educational programs and information to the community. Volunteers also benefit from the training, networking with other garden enthusiasts, and having the opportunity to serve their communities.

Would you be interested in becoming a Master Gardener Extension Volunteer? To do so, you need to complete an application. If accepted into the program, you will be required to complete a series of classes taught by experts covering many different topics related to gardening and the environment such as landscape design, plant propagation, lawn care, and plant identification.

The classes meet from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm one day a week for 13 weeks, starting in on Jan. 8 and runs through April 1. Class participants will be required to pass a mid-term and final exam on the material covered.

After completing the program, each person is required to complete 50 hours of volunteering service within one year. Many volunteer opportunities exist including environmental gardening demonstrations, plant clinics at local garden centers and farmers markets, phone and site consultations, school gardens and outreach programs, the speaker’s panel, and plenty of other activities.

After that, each Master Gardener Extension Volunteer must complete 25 hours of volunteer work per year to maintain their status. Before applying, ask yourself this question: “Will I be able to commit to the volunteer requirements after finishing the classes?”

Interested Gwinnett residents have the opportunity to apply for the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program. Applications can be downloaded from the UGA Extension Gwinnett website at www.ugaextension.org/gwinnett/, click on "Agriculture and Natural Resources" on the left side of the page, and go to "Gwinnett County Master Gardener Volunteers."

From there, you can download the application. You can also contact the Extension office to have one mailed to you. The deadline for submitting the forms is Sept. 27 for the 2020 class.

On Sept. 26 from 3:30 5:30 p.m. we will have a meet and greet for the applicants that  will be held in the second-floor conference room of the Gwinnett County Government Annex Building, 750 South Perry St., Lawrenceville, GA 30046.

One aspect that unites all Master Gardeners is a desire to help people. You do not need to have extensive horticultural knowledge because we will provide the necessary training. The program offers many enriching and rewarding opportunities to serve the community. You need a sharing heart and a desire to help others.

For more information on the program, visit the website of the Georgia Master Gardeners Association at https://georgiamastergardeners.org/ and the Gwinnett County Master Gardeners Association at http://www.gwinnettmastergardeners.com/.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011 or tdaly@uga.edu.