History of Cooperative Extension

Prior to the Civil War, very few college curricula addressed agricultural problems that affected farmers. In 1862, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act that provided for "land-grant universities" to educate citizens in agricultural and mechanical fields. In 1887, Congress passed the Hatch Act to provide facilities to the land grant universities to conduct agricultural research. In order to disseminate this new information, Congress passed the Smith Lever Act of 1914 for the establishment of Cooperative Extension offices. In Virginia, there are Extension offices in every county to "extend" to the public this research. Extension units in this state are closely linked to Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. The role of Extension agents is primarily educational. The Master Gardening Associations work in coordination with the Extension Agent in helping people solve their own problems though educational programs.

Danville Master Gardener Association

The first class graduated from the Danville Master Gardener program in June 1988. January 8, 1990 marked the charter of the Danville Master Gardener Association. The DMGA allows the graduates of the Master Gardener program to coordinate the activities of their mandate, continue adding to their knowledge base with lectures/seminars and socialize together. To date, over 275 of our local citizens have participated in the Master Gardener training program.

Becoming a VCE Certified Master Gardener

Individuals who are interested in the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Master Gardening training program should contact the local Extension office
at (434) 799-6558.

  1. The training classes are held once a year, usually in the fall, and consists of 50 hours of classroom training.
  2. After completion of the classroom training the student becomes a Master Gardener Intern.
  3. Once an intern, an individual must spend a minimum of 50 volunteer hours performing hands-on horticulture-based, educational programs that are arranged through the Extension office and/or the local Danville Master Gardener Association.
  4. Upon completion of these steps, a certificate is issued from the Cooperative Extension to become a Certified VCE - Master Gardener.
  5.  In order to maintain certified status, one must contribute 20 volunteer hours and 8 hours of ongoing education yearly through the variety of activities that are made available through the Extension Office and the local association.

Podcast about Master Gardeners
Click her to view podcast about Master Gardeners with David Close, Virginia's State Master Gardener Coordinator