Collier County Extension
Master Gardener Training

The title "Florida Master Gardener" is to be used only and exclusively in the University of Florida Extension Service Master Gardener Program in which trained and certified Master Gardeners answer gardening questions. In addition to the University training, Master Gardeners have diagnostic support via county extension horticulturists and state extension specialists. Master Gardeners also are provided Extension Service publications. Master Gardeners are expected to use the title only when doing unpaid volunteer educational work in the Extension Horticulture program.

Florida Master Gardeners are advised not to advertise their names or their place of business, not to be listed on the advertisements of business places as Master Gardeners. This is a University of Florida Extension Service public service program. Appearing as a commercial activity, having association with commercial products, or giving implied University or Extension Service endorsements of any product or place of business is improper.

In making recommendations which include the use of chemicals (e.g., insecticides, herbicides and fungicides), Florida Master Gardeners must follow published University of Florida Extension Service recommendations. Use of other pesticides recommendations is not approved. Cultural problems, which are not specifically covered by University of Florida Extension Service recommendations, may be handled by suggesting treatments, which an experienced Master Gardener considers appropriate. Questions concerning commercial production of crops and pest control on such crops are to be referred to the local County Extension Agent.

A Florida Master Gardener must attend the prescribed hours of instruction and pass an examination administered by the Florida Cooperative Extension Service before becoming a certified Master Gardener. This certification is restrictive in nature in that it is valid only when the individual is participating in the Florida Master Gardener Program and for one year only. If an individual ceases active participation, then the certification as a Master Gardener becomes void. New certifications will be issued each year only to those individuals who make a commitment for participation in the program for the coming year. Those not continuing in the program will not be re-certified and should be aware that if they represent themselves as Master Gardeners, they are violating their original commitment to the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

All Master Gardener volunteers must recognize the necessity for representing the County Extension Service in a manner consistent with exemplary citizenship and leadership. Standards for Master Gardeners have been established to create a safe and pleasant learning environment for the Master Gardener Program. In addition, procedures for due process are available from the Extension Agent for a Master Gardener to follow if he or she is charged with violating a standard and feels the charge is unfounded.

Master Gardeners are expected to participate in all components of the planned program, be responsive to the reasonable requests of the county agent in charge, and be respectful of the need for personal safety and the safety of others. Along with active participation, Master Gardeners are expected to uphold certain standards of behavior including, but not limited to the following: No possession or use of alcohol or drugs in the workplace or on job assignments outside Extension Office; no abuse or theft of public or personal property; no sexual harassment or misconduct; no verbal abuse and /or failure to cooperate with others, including staff members and /or the public; no possession of weapons or fireworks in the workplace; no defamation of the organization; no creating an implied or outright University or Extension Service endorsement of any product or place of business; no misrepresentation of sources of information; no consistently giving out incorrect information; no use of state and /or county vehicles without authorization; no failure to report any and all injuries to the County Extension Agent as soon as possible; and no physical assault. Any violations will result in dismissal pending due process. Illegal activities will be referred to law enforcement.

The training and experience gained by participation in the Florida Master Gardener Program are valuable and may rightfully be listed and featured as qualifications when seeking employment. Once employed, and while serving as a paid employee, or if self-employed, Master Gardeners should not display credentials or give the appearance of being Master Gardeners on duty at places of business. Places of business specifically designated a Master Gardener Plant Clinic locations by the County Extension Agent are exceptions to this 'separation' rule, but still do not put active or former Master Gardeners in the opposition of selling horticultural merchandise.

Experienced Master Gardeners are likely to receive invitations to speak before groups. Gratuitous payments for speaking are not a concern since such speaking activity is entirely separate from the question answering done at Master Gardener Clinics. However, please do not seek payment for such speaking appearances.

Your work is much appreciated by the University of Florida Extension Service and your local area gardeners who have received or will receive you counsel.

Special Note of Caution: Individuals who are not acting on behalf of the University of Florida Extension Service are strongly urged to make every effort to minimize the appearance of being on duty before making any recommendations in the area of horticulture. Speaking "off the record" is your right; however, make sure everyone knows you are speaking for yourself and not the Extension Service.

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a master gardener pulling weeds
a master gardener doing some research at a computer



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