Master Gardeners celebrate 20 years of service

The Louisiana Master Gardener program, a volunteer service organization of the LSU AgCenter, is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012 with a wide array of activities around the state.

Rene Schmit, LSU AgCenter Master Gardener coordinator, oversees more than 1,700 members in 44 parishes. “This program actually began in East Baton Rouge Parish…with 36 graduates in that first class under the leadership of Bob Souvestre,” Schmit said. There are now 23 Master Gardener associations throughout the state. “They get involved in everything from plant health clinics to manning booths at fairs and festivals,” he said.

As Master Gardeners continue to grow in numbers, they increase the number of people learning about gardening and becoming involved in gardening, according to Schmit. Over 270 master gardeners attended the an Appreciation Day at Hammond Research Station that featured presentations on plant genetics by LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. Mississippi State University horticulturist Gary Bachman also gave a presentation on his favorite plants, and LSU horticulturist Allen Owings gave tours of the sun garden.

“The Master Gardeners need to know this information so they can pass it on to the public,” Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the station, said. “And since most Master Gardeners also are avid gardeners themselves, an event like this gives them an opportunity to just come out here to have fun and to learn.”

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