The Master Gardener program was established to assist Cooperative Extension in reaching the consumer horticulture audience. Master Gardeners are community volunteers trained by county extension agricultural agents. The program provides interested individuals with extensive training in many phases of gardening. In return, participants dedicate volunteer time to teach other home gardeners.

Penn State Cooperative Extension adopted the Master Gardener program in 1982. Currently, there are nearly 3000 volunteers within 58 of Pennsylvania's counties.

The Master Gardener program began in Adams County in 1990, with two Master Gardeners supporting the program. It is now a program with 70 people. An important outreach of Penn State Extension is the Master Gardeners' lecture series available any time of year to groups who are interested in garden related topics. Master Gardeners reach out to children, seniors, and the underprivileged to teach them about horticulture. This is done through demonstrations, lectures, and hands-on presentations throughout the county. Please feel free to contact Mary Ann Ryan at (717) 334-6271 ext. 319 or e-mail at for an updated list of our speakers' topics.

In the spring, the Master Gardeners work on two garden demonstration projects: the trial gardens at the Ag Center and the native planting at the Ag Center. Both projects run from April through June. For our trial gardens, Penn State provides us with select annuals and perennials that we evaluate on a bi-weekly basis. We record the plants' performance throughout the summer. This is a statewide project to evaluate new varieties that are on the market today to see how they perform in our area and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The native planting is used as a tool to educate those interested in using natives in today's world. Our Rites of Fall, Fall Craft Series, and Myers Arboretum Tour are Master Gardener sponsored programs presented September through November.

As a Penn State Master Gardener, one must complete a thirteen-week course that covers information on botany, plant propagation, insects and diseases, plant identification, diagnostics, and much more. Upon completion of this course, the Master Gardener trainee must dedicate 50 hours of volunteer time to the Master Gardener program throughout the following year. To maintain Master Gardener status, an additional 20 hours per year following their initial commitment as well as 8 hours of advanced education is required.

In addition, we man the telephone at the extension office to answer your gardening questions. If you have any gardening related questions, you may call (717) 334-6271, and your call will be directed to a Master Gardener. There is great pride and community service involved when becoming a Master Gardener.

If you are interested in learning more about the Adams County Master Gardener Program call Mary Ann Ryan at (717) 334-6271 ext. 319 or e-mail at for more information.

To become a Frederick County Master Gardener, which is associated with the University of Maryland, call Lee Royer, at 301-694-1596 or visit

To become a Carroll County Master Gardener, which is also associated with the University of Maryland, call Steve Allgeier at 410- 386-2760 or e-mail at