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About the University of Idaho Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program:

Welcome! You’ve come to the right place to learn about the University of Idaho Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Kick off those dirty shoes, pull off those wet gloves, and read on.

Justin Smith Morrill
Let us have colleges as might rightfully claim the authority to scatter broadcast that knowledge which will prove useful in building up a great nation, great in its resources of wealth and power, but greatest of all in the aggregation of its intelligence and virtue.

-Representative Justin Smith Morrill.

In 1862, amidst a civil war, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, giving birth to the Land-Grant University System. This act gave to each state, land, which could be used to build college where individuals could come to learn about agriculture, and the mechanical arts. In 1867 Grover Cleveland signed the Hatch Act, which created agricultural experiment stations throughout the states which were associated with the land-grant universities. In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act created the Cooperative Extension System. This system took the research and knowledge from the halls of the land-grant universities, often inaccessible to many, to the communities where average citizens lived and worked. University of Idaho is Idaho’s land-grant university. It’s mission; teaching, research, and extension. Faculty extend what they learn through research by teaching it in the communities where they live and work.

Dr. David Gibby
UI Extension State Master Gardener Volunteer Program Coordinator, Rich Guggenheim with Dr. David Gibby, 2017, Pray, Mt.

In 1970, Dr. David Gibby, then the WSU Extension agent in King County was busy delivering research-based gardening information to the public through mass-media. This approach only served to increase the public’s demand for reliable horticulture information. Demand made it difficult for Dr. Gibby to respond to all the calls the Extension office was receiving.

As a result, Dr. Gibby decided to create a program where he would recruit and train volunteers to respond to gardeners’ questions. In 1973, the first volunteer training was offered to approximately 200 volunteers and thus marked the birth of the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program! The Master Gardener program became an instant success. The Idaho Master Gardener program was created in 1976 in Ada and Canyon Counties. You can find the Master Gardener Volunteer program in 32 of Idaho’s’ 44 counties, all 50 states, nine Canadian provinces, and South Korea.