The design of NMSU's Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Program includes well thought out structure, curriculum, procedures and requirements. Volunteers who complete the required coursework and remain actively involved are committed to helping their county agent more effectively respond and service the needs of the local residents. Participation in the program benefits agency staff, local gardeners, and the landscape they are all working to understand and thoughtfully manage. Each year, EMG chapters throughout NM produce knowledgeable gardeners who enjoy assisting their local Cooperative Extension Service office in providing accurate, research-based gardening information to county residents. Within the programmatic structure of the Extension Master Gardener Program is a curriculum focused on the fundamentals of good horticultural and biological land management practices. Classes are held at varying times of the year (depending on the county) in an effort to prepare volunteers for service and keep those already trained up to date. Program requirements include necessary procedures and specific activities (some standardized and some unique to the local community's needs). These various projects and volunteer efforts serve to drive the tangible outcomes of a highly effective volunteer program.
A successful Extension Master Gardener Program is dependent on those who make it happen. These include the NMSU specialists, the county agents, and especially the volunteer gardeners who wish to share their expertise with others while being involved in something they enjoy. The NMSU Extension Master Gardener Program began in 1981 in Albuquerque. Today there are counties throughout New Mexico with an active EMG Chapter. Some counties use Extension Master Gardeners extensively and teach classes annually. Other county agents find that the program is more sustainable if it is taught once every two to three years. And there are several counties that partner their classes and use technology to deliver the curriculum to a more rural program.
If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office to find an active chapter near you. Below are the counties in New Mexico that currently have an active chapter. And be sure to check this site for continuous updates.