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The Master Gardener program is an all-volunteer organization sanctioned by Land Grant Institutions in each state and functions as an extension of the college or university. In Wisconsin, the program is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who aid University of Wisconsin-Extension staff by helping people in the community better understand horticulture and their environment.
The seed for the Master Gardener (MG) program was planted in 1972 by Washington State cooperative Extension. MG volunteers were trained to extend Extension’s outreach to community residents in educating people about horticulture. The MG program begin in the late 1970’s. Local MG groups banded together in 1992 to form the Wisconsin Master Gardener Association (WIMGA).
The goal of the Master Gardener program is to train enthusiastic volunteers so they can, in turn, provide research-based information on a wide variety of horticulture topics to the general public in their communities.
Prior to 1999, residents of Chippewa County had to travel to other counties to take part in the Master Gardener program. Jerry Clark, Chippewa County Agriculture Agents, recognized the importance of the program and what it could bring to Chippewa County. In January of 1999, the first Master Gardener training session was held in the county. Class participants were very enthused about the program. Upon completion of the first series of training sessions, the Chippewa Valley Master Gardener Association (CVMGA) was formed. Since then, the group has grown and hosts numerous educational workshops and presentations, including its annual Think Spring Garden Seminar, as well as it’s annual plant sale to help raise funds for their projects.