Backyard Gardener: Master Gardeners serve Yavapai County
Many people have heard of Master Gardeners, but they may not know exactly what they do or how to become one.
Master Gardeners are knowledgeable volunteers that have completed a comprehensive horticultural training course and extend that information to others through volunteer service in their communities. The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension sponsors and supports the Arizona Master Gardener Program, and Yavapai County has an active and vibrant group.
Additionally, I am very proud of these highly-motivated volunteers and their accomplishments.
In Yavapai County, Master Gardeners must complete 50 hours of volunteer service within a year of taking the course to become “certified”. Master Gardeners maintain their certification by volunteering at least 25 hours and completing six hours of continuing education each subsequent year.
Volunteer opportunities are numerous and highly varied. Many Master Gardeners provide service by answering horticultural questions from the public on our two office hotlines. Other volunteer activities include: staffing booths at fairs and community events; assisting with school and community gardens; special educational projects; organizing educational events; and providing educational presentations to diverse public groups through our speaker’s bureau. Of course, they do all these activities without compensation and do not use their Master Gardener title for personal gain.
About 180 Master Gardeners are currently active in Yavapai County. Some of our 2018 highlights were providing technical assistance to community gardens, delivering 58 programs to countywide communities by the Master Gardener speaker’s bureau, and mentoring Associate Master Gardeners to facilitate their engagement and success.
Another ongoing project is the online Yavapai County Native and Naturalized Plant database that has photos and descriptions of 835 trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and forbs. See it at: https://cals.arizona.edu/yavapaiplants/.
As the Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, I have many diverse responsibilities and rely heavily on Master Gardeners to assist the public with insect/weed identification and management, diagnosis of plant diseases, garden and orchard care, landscape questions, and general horticultural information. Yavapai County has a very active and engaged horticultural community, and the talent pool is filled with qualified individuals willing to share their time and expertise.
In 2018, Yavapai County Master Gardeners documented 14,887 hours of service. This service reached 4,082 county residents through face-to-face community interactions and 3,963 residents by office visits, phone calls and e-mail contacts. As you can see, Master Gardeners are an important horticultural resource to Yavapai County communities.
There are also monthly Master Gardener Association (MGA) meetings where guest speakers share knowledge and expertise, activities are planned and business conducted. The meeting locations rotate each month between the Verde Valley and Prescott. Each meeting is typically attended by 40 to 50 Master Gardeners and the meetings also provide continuing education.
So, if you have gardening questions, bring them to a Master Gardener. Our help desks are in the two University of Arizona Cooperative Extension offices. The Camp Verde office is at 2830 N. Commonwealth Drive, Suite 103 near the Camp Verde Justice Facility. The Prescott office is on the Prescott Rodeo Grounds at 840 Rodeo Drive Bldg. C, near the Gail Gardner entrance.
Master Gardeners are available to serve you Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (we are closed during the noon hour at both offices). You also may email questions/photos (see Master Gardener contact information below).
If you are interested in becoming a Yavapai County Master Gardener, applications will be accepted starting in November. The 2020 Master Gardener Training Course will be held in the Verde Valley through 16 weekly classes starting in late January through mid-May. Thirty participants will be accepted. Interested parties may contact one of our offices and leave their name, phone number, mailing address, and email. You may also email this information directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I’d like to invite you to the Monsoon Madness Plant and Yard Sale on Saturday, July 13, at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds. It begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m. Monsoon Madness has been a yearly tradition since 2008, and the funds generated are used to support horticultural education and future Master Gardener activities. The sale occurs rain or shine. It is a cash-only sale, and service animals are welcome. I hope to see you there.
You can follow the Backyard Gardener on Twitter — use the link on the BYG website. If you have other gardening questions, call or email the Master Gardener help line in Prescott, email@example.com, or Camp Verde, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number.
Find past Backyard Gardener columns or provide feedback at the Backyard Gardener website: http://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/.
Jeff Schalau is the county director and agent for Agriculture & Natural Resources, Yavapai County and interim county director for Mohave County’s University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.