Master Gardener?

Susan at Garden Rant has a post today titled, “When Master Gardeners Break The Rules and Say They Are Master Gardeners.”  Susan say’s, ” I received an email complaining about two Illinois Master Gardeners identifying themselves as such on the Directory of Garden Coaches. ” According to Monica from the Illinois Master Gardener program, “all states have similar policies and Master Gardeners are not allowed to use their title in any form of commercial advertisement.”

If your sign up for the Master Gardener program you also sign up to abide by the rules. Seems pretty clear.  More to my interest is why people who sign up and complete these courses can call themselves “Master Gardeners”? Imagine taking a class on cooking for a  50 hour cumulative period of time, taking a test, and then calling yourself a “Master Chef?” I have been in the nursery trade for over 30 years and I don’t even consider myself a “Master Horticulturist.”

This is not to diminish what Master Gardeners do, or the fact that some in the program might very well be “Master Gardeners.” Perhaps it’s time to think about changing the name of the program to something that more accurately describes what they do? With so many people newly interested in gardening it might be less intimidating to them if the didn’t have to consult with “Masters” when asking questions. In their minds it might be like having to call Emeril Lagasse, who is most certainly a Master Chef,  to ask what it means to add a “dash” of seasoning to a dish. They likely would be too intimidated, and not call. If we in the gardening professions are having discussions about this you can only imagine what the newly excited gardener might thinking.

It’s time for the Master Gardener program to ask itself if it might be more beneficial to change the name to something more descriptive of what they actually do. It’s a great program, and the people who complete it are to be congratulated. Let’s come up with a title less intimidating to the public who are the beneficiaries of the knowledge gained by the “extension volunteers” hard work.


About Trey Pitsenberger

Trey is a nurseryman, author, and speaker.

19. April 2013 by Trey Pitsenberger
Categories: | Tags: , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. I’m all for a name change as you can’t be a ‘master’ until you have literally done it all. I once met William Stern, a legend in the botanical world, who at 92 told me that you never stop learning, implying that we’re all students until the end! I agree the title is misleading but I think those volunteers should be able to claim some credit for all there efforts. This industry is under a lot of pressure to stay relevant and these volunteers are at public places promoting the craft. The name change will take away the ‘elitist’ image and allow the group to interface with average people wanting to learn more but felt inferior to ask.

  2. I’m a Master Screwup and make no bones about it.