AUBURN, Alabama—Does your spring garden have you stumped? Is a question about mulch or daffodils setting you back? The Alabama Master Gardeners (MG) are standing by ready to answer questions on the Master Gardener Helpline.
The toll-free helpline connects callers with a knowledgeable team of MG who can help answer questions. Armed with research and Alabama Cooperative Extension System publications, these volunteers will also contact specialists to find the answers you need to help your garden grow.
Kerry Smith, the Alabama Master Gardener program coordinator, said the program is used to expand the outreach mission of Extension. Volunteers from MG groups around the state work the phones answering questions—running the gamut from vegetable gardens to bulbs and trees.
“The helpline has been in existence since 2006, as a statewide effort,” Smith said. “We’ve had more than 50,000 calls to the helpline statewide, and if we were to estimate separate county efforts before 2006, this number would probably double.”
Alabama Cooperative Extension System offices regularly receive calls concerning home grounds. Master Gardeners also collaborate with county and regional Extension agents to answer inquiries accurately and in a timely manner.
Alabama Master Gardener Program
The MG program was created to increase the availability of home horticultural information through qualified volunteers, and to improve community life through community projects.
“The Master Gardener program is an example of partnership between the land-grant universities, Auburn University and Alabama A&M, and motivated volunteers interested in educating their communities,” Smith said.
MG volunteer programs have been implemented all over the United States and in four Canadian provinces. In order to become a certified MG, interns participate in a minimum of 50 hours of Extension training and 50 hours of initial volunteer service.
Every volunteer contributes to the success of the program. They offer the community reliable gardening information and educational opportunities. Volunteers help in the county office or they may provide an educational program for a civic group. Smith said roughly 1,800 volunteers reported service hours last year.
The Alabama MG Program is based on the idea of shared ownership. Extension staff and volunteers both share ideas, visions, dreams and responsibilities for the program. To that end, volunteers have the opportunity to work with other Extension programs, federal agencies, state agencies, county agencies and local schools and organizations. All Master Gardeners represent Extension as educational resources for their communities. Their overall mission is to improve the quality of life where they volunteer.
Click here for applications for the MG volunteer program.
Master Gardener Helpline
Home garden questions? Please call the Master Gardener Helpline at 1-877-252-4769. There is a Master Gardener waiting to answer your call.
Featured image by Julietphotography/shutterstock.com.