History

The new OMGA MISSION AND HISTORY document is finally complete. Please click the link to read this new and detailed pamphlet about the history of the OMGA.

Since 1976, Oregon Master Gardeners (MG’s) have worked, in association with the OSU Extension Service, to serve the educational and informational needs of home gardeners around the state. The Oregon Master Gardeners Association (OMGA), organized in 1982 and incorporated in 1985, is the network by which county MG chapters communicate, educate, and fund projects. MG’s are now organized as part of extension home horticulture programs in most US states; the OMGA hosted the second national conference of Master Gardeners in 1989 and the first western regional conference in 1994.

Oregon Master Gardeners serve to help promote sustainable gardening practices, to encourage best methods for new or frustrated gardeners, and to expand the reach of the OSU Extension Agents. Master Gardeners volunteer as home horticulture educators and facilitators through the MG chapters in their local communities:

    • answering phone questions at OSU Extension offices,
    • helping communities develop and maintain public food gardens,
    • promoting gardening for children and people with special needs,
    • answering questions at Farmers’ Markets, fairs, and other events,
    • fundraising and public speaking.

Since its organization, OMGA has facilitated, in cooperation with the OSU Extension Service, an annual Mini College for home gardeners. Mini College offers advanced or specialized training from highly regarded educators in classes organized around an annual theme (‘Beyond Backyard Basics: the Science of Sustainability’ in 2010). Beyond education, Mini College has always offered great opportunity for gardeners to meet and share stories and wisdom with each other. OMGA organizes and hosts registration, social events, an auction, awards, and accommodations.

In addition, OMGA offers a number of awards and scholarships to members of the OMGA and Extension communities. The Marje Luce Search for Excellence is awarded to MG chapters whose projects have significant learning and impacts in their communities. The Karl Carlson Memorial Fund offers grants and zero-interest loans to chapters for projects or materials that support urban horticulture or to establish or strengthen chapters. The Send a Friend Program offers Mini College Scholarships. The Extension Educator Grants offer project funds to extension agents, program assistants or staff.

Through its Board of Directors and Executive Board, the OMGA provides leadership to the MG chapters of Oregon at quarterly and chapter meetings; through the OMGA website, ‘Gardeners Pen’ newsletter and historical documentation; for funds and insurance management; through projects and awards; and Mini College.