Highlands County Master Gardener Program

Highlands County started its Master Gardener Program in 1984. At present we have 75 Master Gardeners. Florida Master Gardeners are adult volunteers recruited and trained in Extension home horticulture programs.

Since 1979, cooperative extension agents in 47 Florida counties have maximized resources using a "learn and return" program developed in Washington: the Florida Master Gardener Program. By providing education-based instruction methods incorporated with the latest scientific research, the program capitalizes on the desire of Florida citizens to learn more about horticulture in exchange for a predetermined number of volunteer hours returned to the individual county.

The state does not require Florida counties to have the program. Rather, each individual county extension office determines the focus and structure of the program. The volunteers (or MGs as they call themselves) execute a variety of outreach tasks as determined by the program leader (usually the consumer horticultural agent). Duties include as answering horticultural questions over the phone, in person or through the media; participating in public service projects; giving educational programs; supporting youth activities, performing soil sample evaluations and assisting in field research. The ultimate end to all these activities is to extend the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences - protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

To become a Master Gardener contact David Austin at (863)402-6540 or click here for forms.