Master Gardeners are volunteer educators of the horticultural arts and sciences. With training from UF/IFAS Extension, Master Gardeners are active in their communities, offering leadership and guidance in gardening projects of all types and sizes. The Florida Master Gardener Program has been around since 1979, and each year, approximately 4,700 Master Gardeners contribute a total of 420,000 hours of service, helping to make their communities better informed, more sustainable, and more beautiful.

Your training as a Master Gardener will prepare you for your volunteer work under the direction of UF/IFAS Gulf County Extension Director, Ray Bodrey. You will become a volunteer for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS) and will be providing services to the residents of Gulf County and their home gardens.

The Master Gardener curriculum is presented in 15 weekly classes. These classes will be held each Tuesday morning from 10 a.m. until 12 noon ET, beginning Feb. 7 at the Gulf County Extension – Port St. Joe Satellite Office at 502 East 4th Street. Additionally, every third Saturday from 9 a.m. until 12 noon is a work/demonstration day at a school or community garden in either Wewahitchka or Port St. Joe. The deadline for registration is Jan. 20.


Benefits to a becoming a Master Gardener

The primary benefit of becoming a Master Gardener is the breadth and depth and quality of horticulture/gardening information you will gain. Your 50 hours of classroom and hands-on training will expose you to valuable information on fertilizer, garden pests, weather, herbicides, pesticides, organic vegetable gardening and more.

Your classmates with whom you will be studying and working are like-minded people who share your love of caring for plants. The knowledge you will gain will help you improve your own garden and try out ideas you learn in class. You will be working through the Extension office to provide research-based information about gardening, America’s most popular pastime. As a Master Gardener trainee, you will have access to Extension trainers, facilities and informational sources.


Requirements to become a Master Gardener:


• Complete a Master Gardener Application (sprout kit) by Friday, Jan. 20.

• Pay a $100 Fee - covers course materials (will be refunded immediately, if not selected)

• Purchasing the UF/IFAS Master Gardener manual is optional at a cost of an additional $85.

• Complete interview & background check

• Complete 50 hours of training (includes classroom, continuing education and field classes)

• Complete 75 volunteer hours within the first year of certification through the Gulf County Extension Office. Master Gardeners can fulfill their volunteer hours in a variety of ways, including: answering horticultural questions, participating in community and school garden projects, giving educational programs to the public, supporting youth activities and more.


For any additional information, questions or obtaining a sprout kit call Gulf County Extension Director & Master Gardener Coordinator, Ray Bodrey at 639-3200.