WSU Master Gardeners celebrate program's 50th anniversary

Photo provided by Mary Fran McClure: Master Gardener volunteers Diane Lee, left, and Sandee Roberts deadhead roses in the Rose Garden at the Community Education Garden in Wenatchee last year.


Chelan/Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners invite all to join them in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Extension Master Gardener Program.

Now an intercontinental volunteer movement, the master gardener phenomenon began right here in Washington, 50 years ago this spring, as part of Washington State University Extension.

A local celebration — A Garden Faire, Celebrating 50 years of the WSU Master Gardener Program — will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 10 at the Community Education Garden, 1100 N. Western Ave. in Wenatchee. The free family event will include celebration, kids’ activities and learning for the whole family.

"For 50 years, Extension Master Gardener volunteers have passionately shared their time and knowledge with the aim of building healthier, more beautiful communities," said Marco Martinez, coordinator of the WSU Extension Chelan-Douglas Master Gardener Program. "Please help us celebrate this incredible milestone as well as the many accomplishments of our amazing volunteers and partners."

The local celebration is the third of four scheduled across the state. Regional WSU-hosted gatherings already took place in Puyallup and Prosser. The fourth celebration is scheduled for July 13 at WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (NWREC) at Mount Vernon.

The celebration culminates with the WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference, Sept. 27-30 at Tacoma, where attendees will mark the anniversary and learn the latest in gardening techniques, outreach, and discovery.

Master Gardeners are Extension-trained volunteers who share information on horticulture and environmental stewardship with their communities through clinics, demonstration gardens, and local partnerships.

The first class of volunteers trained in spring 1973 in Washington's King and Pierce counties. The movement quickly spread across the state, nationwide and beyond. Today, master gardeners can be found in Canada, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

In Washington, more than 4,000 Master Gardener volunteers provide over 330,000 hours of service annually, educating upwards of 300,000 of their neighbors while providing 60,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks. More than 100,000 Master Gardeners are active nationwide.

The Washington program is currently raising funds for its first-ever endowed WSU faculty chair, who will develop new partnerships, tools, and curricula to help master gardeners become a more accessible, diverse resource.

To learn about your local Extension Master Gardener Program, get involved or find out how to become a trained Master Gardener volunteer, contact Marco Martinez at 509-667-6540 or visit the program's webpage.

Last Updated: 05/18/2023 08:08 AM

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