Madera County
University of California
Madera County

Celebrating 40 Years in California!

Dr. David Gibby founded the very first master gardener program in 1973. Photo:
When David Gibby founded the very first master gardener program in 1973, he had no way of knowing the tremendous impact master gardener volunteers would make around the world.

Established in 1980, the UC Master Gardener Program has been extending UC research-based information about home gardening and pest management to the public for forty years.

Starting in Riverside and Sacramento Counties the program is now in more than 50 counties across California and functions as a volunteer based public service and outreach program under the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), administered locally by participating UC Cooperative Extension county offices. 

The first graduating class of UC Master Gardener volunteers in Sacramento County.


Without the passion of volunteers, local communities, and support from UC academics the UC Master Gardener Program would not have grown into the extensive educational volunteer network it is today. Last year 6,154 active UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 446,237 hours, and 6.8+ million hours have been donated since the program's inception. Our volunteers are the core of the UC Master Gardener Program and are serving in a way that creates positive change for people, communities and our environment.

(Left) A UC Master Gardener workshop and plant clinic being hosted in the mall, circa early 1980. (right) A UC Master Gardener Program booth at the California State Fair in 2018. Photo: Toni Greer

40 and Counting

Guided by our mission to extend research-based knowledge, the program is currently focused on three primary impact areas: sustainable landscaping, food gardening and community well-being. Through recently implemented statewide program evaluation and data collection efforts the first ever annual report was published in 2019. “The annual report spotlights volunteer and the impacts they are making in their communities every day,” says Missy Gable, statewide Director, “Our volunteers continue to set us apart. With the continued support and commitment from volunteers, UC, and local communities the program will continue to grow and support gardeners across the state.” 

UC Master Gardener volunteers of San Bernardino County attending the previous statewide conference in Long Beach, Calif. Photo: Melissa Womack

Celebrate with Us!

Join us throughout the year in helping celebrate the 40th year of the UC Master Gardener Program making a difference across California's landscape. This landmark anniversary is being celebrated through the use of the new 40th anniversary logo, events and special recognition throughout the state.

  • Anniversary Logo:
    Members of the UC Master Gardener community are encouraged to use the 40th Anniversary log on social media pages, email signatures, and in printed materials during the year-long celebration.

  • 2020 Statewide Conference:
    Volunteers, University of California Academics, and specials guests will be able to celebrate at the triennial Statewide UC Master Gardener Conference, in Lake Tahoe Sept. 28 – Oct. 2, 2020. Special themed commemorative conference pin, apparel, awards dinner and celebrations are being arranged for the conference.

  • Photo Contest:
    A special photo contest will also be held where everyone can participate and celebrate.

  • State and County Recognition:
    Proclamations at both the state and local levels will call attention to and recognize the achievement of volunteers and their commitment to the mission and community service.

  • #GivingTuesday & Big Dig Day: 
    UC ANR's 2nd annual Big Dig Day will take place this year on Friday June 5, 2020 and focuses on raising funds to support local county programs or projects. Save-the-Date for #GivingTuesday taking place Dec. 1, 2020 and is primarily a social media movement to show support through volunteering or making a gift. 
Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 12:55 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden


Thank you for recognizing 40 years of our amazing California Master Gardener program. Master Gardeners might enjoy these interesting facts about the first class of 1980 in Sacramento County: Three of the original class of 33 are still active MG's - Fran Clarke, Virginia Feagans and Marsha Prillwitz. (Technically I was the coordinator, so I wasn't one of the trainees.) There were also seven out-of-county master gardeners, primarily from San Joaquin and foothill counties, trained so that they could go back and help establish programs in their own counties. The class took place on Saturdays from 9-12, beginning January 19 and ending with a final exam on March 15. Quite a bit shorter than today's training classes. The class photo posted above was taken at our graduation breakfast at the Holiday Inn, Sacramento on April 12. The photo includes graduates and some of their family members, as well as my husband and myself (standing & sitting far right ) and our county director, Ted Torngren (standing far left). I am so proud to have been a part of this wonderful educational program from the beginning. First, as the program coordinator and now as a volunteer Master Gardener. The impact of the Master Gardeners to the citizens of California over the past 40 years is immeasurable.

Posted by Pamela S. Bone on January 21, 2020 at 2:49 PM

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