In the early 1970s, renewed interest in home gardening spread through the United States. Gardening became America’s number one hobby, and extension offices everywhere were overwhelmed with requests for horticultural information and education.

National Program

In Washington state, Dr. David Gibby, a WSU AgriLife Extension agent, and Dr. Arlen Davison, a WSU plant pathologist, saw the need to expand their information outreach, and had the idea of equipping volunteers for this task. The plan was for Extension to provide applicants with extensive horticultural training, and, in return, the Master volunteers would assist Extension in their outreach, providing the general public with information and education. The first Master Gardener class was trained in 1973 in Washington state.

Texas Program

The Texas Master Gardener program began in 1978 at Extension horticulture training at Texas A&M University when Dr. Sam Cotner, Extension vegetable specialist, described the success of the movement in Washington. The first Master Gardener class in Texas was held in 1979 in Montgomery County with 25 applicants.

Bexar County Master Gardener Program

The first training class in Bexar County was held in 1989 and, as of spring 2016, there have been 60 subsequent classes. Master Gardener training classes are now held annually in the spring. A summer 3-day training teaches educators and youth leaders how to implement Junior Master Gardener training in their programs.