The Master Gardener Program in Dane County started in 1981. Over 1,670 people have been trained since that time, and there are currently 171 certified Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) for 2019.
In 2018, Dane County Master Gardener Volunteers reported 13,100 hours of community service, worth a value of over $314,400.
* using the current estimated dollar value of volunteer time in Wisconsin of $24.69 per hour, from Independent Sector.
Answering Garden Questions at Farmers Market
MGVs who have received an extra level of training from Dane County UWEX to answer gardening questions from the public are stationed at 6 community farmers markets in Madison, Monona, Sun Prairie and Fitchburg in Dane County from May through September to provide information to the gardening public and to raise the visibility of the program so more people become aware of it as a resource for education. MGVs report that many people become ‘repeat clients’, returning to tell MGVs of the progress of their plants over the season and ask additional questions. The program has grown in scope since it was inaugurated in 2012. In 2017, 1175 residents were served, and 1140 county residents were served in 2016.
As part of a 5-year strategic plan, MGvs created a Signature Project to promote community awareness of the Master Gardener Program, and provide a public service. A team volunteered throughout the summer and fall to restore 6 acres of prairie at the Dane County Parks Lussier Family Heritage Center. This summer, MGVs planted over 900 native plants and seeded others. In addition MGVs worked with community members to plant a pollinator garden at the site and installed signage to educate over 16,000 visitors annually about the pollinators and the garden’s function.
UW-Extension Teaching Garden
MGVs plan and maintain the UW Extension Teaching Garden, which provides an array of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals labeled with print as well as QR codes accessible by smartphone that are linked to a blog http://tgplpinfo.blogspot.com/ with more information on each plant. It is the only public garden in the area using this technology. The garden is used as an outdoor classroom with hands-on training for MGVs, public education and youth gardening. This year, a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated new interpretative signage. Eighty-seven attendees including the County Executive, County Board Supervisors, MGVs and Dane County UWEX staff attended.
Where you can find activities by MGVs
- Olbrich Botanical Gardens
- Farmer’s Markets in Dane County
- Various School Gardens
- Lussier Family Heritage Center Prairie
- Various Community Gardens
- UW – Allen Centennial Gardens
- Agrace Hospice Care