Lawn & Garden
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Does your spring garden have you stumped? Are your shrubs shriveling? The Alabama Extension Master Gardeners (MG) are standing by ready to answer questions on the Master Gardener Helpline.
The toll-free helpline connects callers with a knowledgeable team of MG volunteers who can help answer all of the most pressing gardening questions. Armed with research and Alabama Cooperative Extension System publications, these volunteers will also contact specialists to find the answers gardeners need to help the garden grow.
Mallory Kelley, a home grounds regional agent who oversees central Alabama’s helpline, said the program is a great example of Extension’s outreach mission. Volunteers from MG groups around the state work the phones answering questions—running the gamut from vegetable gardens to bulbs and trees.
“The helpline has been in existence since 2006, as a statewide effort,” Kelley said. “We’ve always had helpline callers, but the pandemic really ratcheted up the effort. Before, volunteers worked the helpline in March through August but now there is a need for MG expertise year-round.”
Alabama Extension offices regularly receive home grounds questions and calls. Master Gardeners collaborate with agents and specialists to answer inquiries accurately and in a timely manner.
New Ways to Contact Master Gardeners
Kelley said the newest way to contact the MG volunteers is to submit a form through the Alabama Master Gardeners webpage. Submit a help request form with detailed information about the issues in the yard or garden and receive a prompt reply from MG volunteers manning the line.
Alabama Master Gardener Program
The Alabama Extension MG program was developed to increase the availability of home horticultural information through qualified volunteers, and to improve community life through community projects.
“The Master Gardener program is an example of partnership between the land-grant universities, Auburn University and Alabama A&M University, and motivated volunteers interested in educating their communities,” Kelley said.
MG volunteer programs have been implemented all over the United States and in four Canadian provinces. To become a certified MG, interns complete a minimum of 50 hours of Extension training and 50 hours of volunteer service.
Every volunteer contributes to the success of the program. They offer the community reliable gardening information and educational opportunities. Volunteers help in the county office or they may provide an educational program for a civic group.
The Alabama Extension MG Program is based on the idea of shared ownership. Both Extension staff and volunteers share ideas, visions, dreams and responsibilities for the program. To that end, volunteers have opportunities to work with Extension programs; federal, state and county agencies; and local schools and organizations. Many communities benefit from MG beautification projects and volunteers. MG volunteers also devote lots of time and effort to local schools and students.
All Master Gardeners represent Extension as educational resources for their communities. Their overall mission is to improve the quality of life where they volunteer.
Master Gardener Helpline
Got home garden questions? Call the Master Gardener Helpline at 1-877-252-4769. There is a Master Gardener waiting to answer your call.
Learn more about the Extension Master Gardener program by visiting www.aces.edu or contacting the home grounds agent in your area.