my rant about rude MG's

bluetruck99(z8)May 6, 2005

i certainly hope it isnt like this everywhere but a few of the master gardeners around here think that becasue they have the title "master gardener" that they know everythign about plants and are somehow superior to other people who have other types of gardening experience. I am a little over 1/2 way through a 4 year horticulture degree, i have worked at a garden center for a number of years now, and i garden and install landscapes in my spare time (if there is any!). so i feel like i know a few things about plants. but the master garedners who came to help with a local highschool plant contest my college was hosting acted like they knew everything. one of them made out the key for the plant ID test and got 6 of them wrong (some of the highschoolers make 100%'s) and one of them came into the garden center where i work at one day and wanted to argue that double impatients love the full sun (shoot, i'll sell them to you and 2 weeks from now when these are all dead come back and i'll sell you the flat of vinca or begonias that will survive)

im not asking any of you to apologise for or stand up for these few people who im sure are not an accurate representation of the MG community. but i am askign that everyone understand that there are a lot of ways to become well versed in gardening and try to represent the MG community better than the people i have come in contact with.

ok im done with my rant now. :) back to gardening!


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blueheron(z6 PA)

Right on, Ironbelly!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 8:18PM
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Give the guy a break! this is the internet not a high school English exam!
The point was that some MGs DO give the impression that they know everything (which they do not)and that they are too good to weed. I think it is a travesty that we portray ourselves as arrogant. We have been lucky enough to have the time to learn from great teachers, and give that time back to our community in various ways that we feel we can.One of the most important things I learnt as an intern on the course was how little I did know. No one can be an expert on grass, and shrubs, and herbs, and perennials, and design and bugs and disease - we learn the basics and learn when to call in the help or consult the resources.

I am still weak on trees and bugs, but I am OK on perennials and pretty good at propagation and herbs (both of which I taught to MG classes for 3 yrs).

So Rick, not all of us are arrogant but some of us do know a few things about a few areas of horticulture - none of us know everything about all areas.
I truly hopoe that you will come across better MGs in the future!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 9:13PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Yes it is true some MGs embarrass me. But that has been true of every organization I have supported over the years. Try and look beyond these few who "will be with us always", and admire those selfless majority who do the heavy work. Al

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 10:08AM
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mtmama42(z5-6 WV)

I'm not yet a Master Gardener but have finished the class and am in the process of completing my volunteer hours in order to obtain the title. Actually, it's the knowledge, new relationships, and fun from the projects that I am after more than the status of Master Gardener.

I agreed to take the classes because a friend wanted to. To be honest I was only vaguely aware of the program. Since then, however, I have found that to some it is a VERY big deal. I think that's great if the big deal about it is to encourage others to garden and to educate them (when we have the knowledge to do so).

So far I have found that the program is perceived differently depending on what MG group or individual MG someone has an experience or experiences with. When I told a friend from another state what I was doing she said that in her area the group was composed of mostly snobbish "ladies" who drink mimosas while watching the people they hire redo landscapes including posting signs taking credit for the project.

The people I have met in our group are for the most part good-natured, willing, helpful people. In our class it was stressed that we seek the correct answer when someone asks something we are not certain of. We have some wonderful old-timers who have invaluable experience and some darn funny stories and old wives' tales. All in all it's a group I am proud to be part of.

Okay, now I will go back and reword, check punctuation - did I spell punctuation right? - and fret. Why doesn't this forum have spell check? LOL Actually, I am usually pretty picky about things like that and do think it is courteous to try to make posts as easy to read as possible. However content is more important than form here.

I agree with Katy and Al. Please don't let one bad experience turn you against a really good program.


P.S. MG doesn't equal morning glories ...........this time.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 11:18AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hey Ryan, I haven't seen your posts in a while.How's the school work doing? The project we discussed has been slow to complete, but getting there. In the process I have discovered a part of what you are trying to point out and it has really stumped me. I've never been really good at telling people how to do something in detail. Some of my help didn't look at the complete plan so they didn't know the purpose for the details so they did it their way instead of my way. Now parts have to be redone and I will wind up offending them and it's taken 4 times as long as it should and I'm embarrassed too. In most cases the work they did would have been fine, even excellent but in this case the finished product has been changed from the original concept. Did I mention to you that I would make a lousy contractor? LOL. No wonder so many of those get a reputation for rude.
I am wondering how many of those MGs you mention are in over their heads and feel they must prove something. It can be really hard to admit you are wrong if you feel you must prove something. However, I have recently rediscovered that sometimes it is the person, not the job. I have had to work with someone recently who would become argumentative if I said hello. For a while I really thought it might be my fault but others noticed it, too and someone must have laid down the law. In our group you can lose certification if you create problems with others. We have to sign a contract that spells it out in no uncertain terms. In any case, there has been a change for the better and I am happy to say work has become much more pleasent for everyone although we may have lost one person from the group because of it. It is a sad fact that some feel that if you admit errors, you lose face. I think it makes you look better if you can admit you made a mistake but you're willing to correct it.
At your age,even with your obvious talents and experience there are going to be some older people who believe they must be wiser just because they are older. LOL. Of course there are also the ones who haven't grown out of their adolesent know it all stage and never will. Ignore them. Life is too short and you have too much to accomplish to let them have any effect on you. Eventually, they get wiser or they get out. It's just a shame they get others tarred with the same brush.
Guess I need to look at some other forums. It's too easy to lose track of friends. Sandy

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 1:37PM
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Ryan, thanks for bringing this to our attention. So far the only place I've seen this kind of criticism of MGs is here on GW but my travels are very limited so I don't hear what's going on in other areas except for here.

Before our next classes I plan to look through the complaints expressed here and present them to our Agent and MG Coordinator so at least one lesson can cover this topic. The last thing MOST MGs want is to offend anybody, neither our clients nor those in the industry. Our classes have always included the "I don't know the answer to that but will research it and get back to you" approach but it's a lesson that needs to be reinforced.

I'm sorry your experiences with MGs have been so negative. I hope you will find that is not the case with most of us.

Sandy G

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 5:59PM
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i see one of my posts on this thread was deleted already (although Ironbellys completely off topic post (#2) was left in tact) if people are in over their heads thats understandable. as hard as it is to admit, im not an expert on everything. but i am (usually) not too proud to say "i dont know, maybe you should call Ag Extension at the local college". or refer the question or problemto someone more qualified. i think the problem is, looking even at this post. the people who have somethign negative to say will be the first to pipe up. (several times even) and then later, the nicer people who accually bothered to read that post and have something knowledgable to add will enter but by this time the sour people have already spoiled my impression of the people in question.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 7:37AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

You are not the only one who has been turned off by officious and offensive MGs. There was a similar thread on another forum and I couldn't believe the negative reports. Since I love the program I had a hard time accepting someone would find the whole program bad because of a single representative but I ran into a bunch so I have to accept that they were offended. It didn't matter that the program does what it was designed to do most of the time. The only thing that those people remembered was one officious and offensive twit. There might be a hundred knowlegable, helpful Mgs in the same group but it will always be the bad one that people remember.
It isn't the program that is a problem. The problem is that some people are just plain unpleasent to begin with and some are always determined to make themselves more important, somehow, usually by putting someone else down or inflating their own expertise. The best way anyone can deal with that kind of problem is to make a complaint or comment to the Horticultural Agent. Be specific, if you can about the person and the problem. If the Agent doesn't know what is happening, he or she can't do anything about it. Sandy

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 10:23AM
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amyg26(z7 LINY)

I have to admit, when I am talking to a horticulturist or other highly trained professional in the field, I do not even mention that I am an MG because of the bad impression they've gotten from others that come off as know-it-alls. It's a shame.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 10:39AM
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yomamanem(7B Georgia)

Since this thread started with an anecdote about one person's experience with a few odd MG's, I would like to share an anecdote: A local well-regarded landscaper was hired to design my son's landscape and my daughters's landscape. I wanted to observe because I was interested in the process. Although I am a Master Gardener, I don't know much about design. The landscaper ASSUMED that I was a know-it-all just because I was present when he discussed his design plans. He came off as a bit rude to me by making some sarcastic comments. Anyway, he did a pretty good job except for some things that I could have prevented if I had spoken he put down bermuda sod in the shade, and roses in the shade, and a walkway to nowhere.
My point: I didn't say a thing, but the man was assuming that I was an "ignorant" arrogant Master Gardener. I acquiesced to his expertise even though I should have questioned some of his design plans. It goes both ways.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 6:46PM
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Gees! I was under the impression that MGs don't have all the answers. Who does???? We, however, have the skill & resources to find the answers in an attempt to be helpful. Don't let a few 'bad apples' spoil the whole bunch. Many of us are extremly dedicated, humble individuals trying to do our part in promoting gardening.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 5:30PM
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I've known hundreds of Master Gardeners. Almost all of them are down'-to-earth humble folk who appreciate and respect the essence of what they are doing. No more, no less. As calistoga said, they are the ones who do the heavy work.

Because I've helped train Master Gardeners, I've observed that those rare few who become the misconceived stereotype for the group as a whole were arrogant before they entered the program. The program didn't make them that way.

I don't know enough about the application/interview process to becoming a MG but maybe this is where the weeding (obvious pun intended) of such individuals is to take place.

And Ryan, don't let a 4-year degree turn you into an arrogant "know-it-all". As my ZM (Zen Master) taught me, "humility is the final achievement".


    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 5:47PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

This is always going to happen in a volunteer organization. We don't have performance reviews and we can't really fire someone, even if they are really out of line. There is another thread on that issue. Screening for personality is an interesting idea, but my county sure doesn't have the resources for interviews.

I also think that some of the kevetching by horticultural pros is because we are mostly much less trained than they are and yet we are often revered by the public. That's an up-side to a volunteer organization - we are appreciated. Someone who is charging a client a gazzilion dollars an hour just doesn't get the love that we do.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 12:23PM
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sunflowerstand(z6a MI)

I would like to add this story to the mix: I came to work with the only two Master Gardeners I have have ever met at the point when the thousands of plants they were responsible for caring for were distressed and on their way to dying. They talked of being Master Gardeners every single time I saw them. Telling these two ANYTHING about gardening was impossible. I am not a master of gardening apparently because I have only loved it and been ferociously learning about and working my tail off at it most of my life. So, I stayed off the subject of gardening at this garden center and only did gardening work there. It may have been kinda lonely, but the plants were all green and happy again by the time I left later that year. The ironic thing is, they just needed to be watered properly. My point is, I think the title "Master Gardener" may be drawing in people with these nasty attitudes. A name less lofty sounding but worthy of the program would be nice. The current name encourages some people with a lot less knowledge about gardening than they think they have behave as if they are superior for some reason. I think the program is a wonderful one and hope that I can someday sign up to take the classes. I must say, though, that after meeting these two, I have less interest in it than before. I really don't want to meet other people like them and unreasonable or not, I was left with a negative impression about the whole thing because of them.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 7:19AM
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I think a good thing to do would be to always add "volunteer" at the end, as in Butts County Master Gardener Volunteer. Yes there is a Butts County in Georgia.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 2:00PM
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Hwy66Jan(z5 CO)

I agree with Eddie about the volunteer disclaimer. "I am a Master Gardener, butt only a volunteer!"

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 4:36PM
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gardenmaker79(zone 4/5)

I am about to finish my 40 hours of volenteer work. That doesnt mean that I know everything and will be the first to say when asked about something I dont have that answer. Give me a couple of days I will TRY to get an answer for you. I will Never know all the answers and will only try to find the right answers for the people who needs them. We should never think we know everything becouse I truely dont believe there is one person who knows everything. We as Master Gardeners shouldnt try to act like we do know everything we are here to help others if they ask and you are able to help. I myself have been doing alot of volenteer work and have enjoyed meeting some new people along the way. I really hope that you find some Master Gardeners that are kinder to you and know we are not all alike in any way.
Thanks and Happy Gardening

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 7:31PM
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I am a "so-called" "Master gardener". I find it an embarassing term and it is always some one else who points this out. I have been gardening large areas for 40 years and I still know very little because each plot of dirt holds such different variables. Each time a theme works out, it is a miracle to me and I am thrilled. I have noticed this particularly unattractive aspect of "some" "Master Gardeners" but try to put rudeness down as "human nature". When someone lauds their "superior knowledge" because they are a "Master Gardener", do as we do in the South: Say, "How NICE for you."

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 8:37AM
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I too am a Master Gardener, and do not share this with others around here much. Any MG that claims they know everything, is dreaming, and possibly giving out wrong answers in an attempt to look good. There's always more learning to do. A Master Gardener should be a person someone would feel comfortable asking for help, and if they don't know the answer, they should know where to find it, or who to ask. Many a time I have told someone "I don't know" to their question and said I'd get back to them later. Humility is a requirement for being a MG in my opinion!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 7:30PM
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I think the title is a misnomer and I refer to myself as a "master gardener volunteer". It helps take the edge off the title. I still have an incurable aversion to the hotline and so I volunteer to do other things in the organization. I enjoy doing research about the questions, and learn a great deal from it, but have a hard time meeting the expectations people have of "master gardener" in real-time on the phone. I guess my personality just doesn't hold up to the pressure!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 10:30AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Seagrass the Hotline should not be intimadating. You will be asked questions you never imagined about plants the caller is unable to identify. Do not let that confuse you, keep asking questions until you can figure out what she is talking about. If you cannot determine with some certainty what the plant is, just say so and ask her to bring you a sample of the damaged foliage(if that is the problem)along with some undamaged. When you see the sample you should be able to solve the problem. If she does not bring in a sample then it is not very important to her. At certain times of the year many calls will be regarding the same problem, usually weather related. The hotline is a way of learning about problems and their solutions that is more benefit to you than to your callers! Al

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 10:29PM
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painterbug(z8 Hell)


I am conflicted.

I understand exactly where bluetruck is coming from. I have run across it in many areas. Basically it is people
who think they have some 'status' over you. It stinks.
If I tell you I was a waitress in my former life would you stop reading?

I took this class, really to do something with my mom, but am so thankful for the tiny amount of knowledge I received. You can't learn everything in a few months. It does take a degree (or an obsessive research disorder, or years of doing it yourself) to become an expert in just one area. So yes, if I were in bluetruck's shoes and someone flauted and meaningless certificate to me in an arrogant way, I would be so offended. Hey, I have been offended by folks with real status, but we won't go there.

I do hope that you would judge people (we all do) on an individual basis. You can't sterotype a designated group, that is not speaking to the individuals of that group.

I would never refer to myself as a master gardener. Just as I never refer to myself as an artist. I have to admit though I do feel a little elated and humbled when others do.

I have to admit that when I did attend my class, I did notice classmates that had that air of eliteness. I used to wonder if they ever hauled a bag of dirt or if they got someone else to do it for them. However, I don't know those people and I can even recognize that this thinking was negative. I found more friendly people then not, more hard working people then not, and I think everyone shared a keen interest in making the world more beautiful. Who can argue with that?

Yes, it is kind of a silly program. Here you pay 100 for a 6 month course and an awesome book. You make loads of contacts for plant trades. You get to volunteer and help people as best you can. It is all free to the government. Are there a few bad seeds, of course. Overall, I think it is a great gig for local government to achive active participation in local horticulture.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 11:54PM
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Hi Bluetruck,
Yes, your are correct when you say that some Master Gardener's are obnoxious know-it-alls! (see my profile page).
Actually, my husband and I were turned off more by the people who ran the MG program than the MG"s. Geezzzeee. Gardening is supposed to be a fun a learning experience. (Some) of the people who ran the program had severe ego problems.
But, What bothered me most, ....
Is that some of the people that ran the program, forgot that the horticultural society would not be able to function (at all) without it's MG's.
My husband and I are MG's. We are friendly and very "down-to-earth!" If I can ever help you... don't hesitate to ask. And, as my profile states..."no one know's everything about every plant".

Gardening is a constant learning experience (for newbies and MG's). And most of all.... it should be fun!
Please don't let a few jerks turn you off to the fun of gardening.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 4:51AM
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Hi Bluetruck,
Yes, your are correct when you say that some Master Gardener's are obnoxious know-it-alls! (see my profile page).
Actually, my husband and I were turned off more by the people who ran the MG program than the MG"s. Geezzzeee. Gardening is supposed to be a fun a learning experience. (Some) of the people who ran the program had severe ego problems.
But, What bothered me most, ....
Is that some of the people that ran the program, forgot that the horticultural society would not be able to function (at all) without it's MG's.
My husband and I are MG's. We are friendly and very "down-to-earth!" If I can ever help you... don't hesitate to ask. And, as my profile states..."no one know's everything about every plant".

Gardening is a constant learning experience (for newbies and MG's). And most of all.... it should be fun!
Please don't let a few jerks turn you off to the fun of gardening.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 6:43AM
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jazzmom516(Zone 7 LI, NY)

I just saw this forum and I post on several other forums on Gardenweb. I have to comment. Where I volunteer at the county office there is one MG who thinks he is God's gift to horticulture and dislikes anyone who even attempts to tell him anything. He dislikes having other MG's around at the counter when he is there if he is with a homeowner or alone at the counter. He is in a power of position since he has been a MG for about 10 years volunteering there. Everyone who is 'down to earth' dislikes him and his snotty attitude. I mention this because this is one person among many who do volunteer at the county office. Most of us are friendly and do not have 'attitudes'. When I was at a large family owned nursery at their info counter a homeowner said to me, "But you are supposed to know everything about plants." My response was everyone knows something about some plants but not everyone knows everything." Don't let the bad guys get you down. I certainly don't.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 1:56PM
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yomamanem(7B Georgia)

I am a Master Gardener because, as Webster defines the adjective, I am "skilled and proficient" at brag, just fact. I am not rude. I run into rude waitresses, teachers, lawyers, etc. but I don't judge their peers because of their behavior. I have read several responses to this thread and it seems that some people are apologizing for being called "Master Gardeners". "Master" does not indicate a degree, just skill and proficiency. All of my local fellow MG's are capable, skilled and proficient gardeners who do a lot for our community. Forty-five hours of course work and a lifetime of self-study have not made me a Ph.D, but I am more than an amateur. I always make sure that when I call myself a Master Gardener, I identify it as the name of an organization to which I belong, because many people haven't heard of it.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 9:09PM
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getyourleash(z7 Mid-Atl USA)

All walks of life take all kinds of people. Master Gardners, attorneys, doctors, architects, teachers and all other folks with titles have some in their group that represent them poorly. It would speak well of you to be annoyed briefly and move on. If you let things like that upset you, I'd hate to see you in a real crisis. Just move on.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stress Managment

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 11:28PM
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Don't ya just hate it when someone comes along and tells you that the subject of your discussion is unimportant and, worse, tells you that you are somehow stressed for discussing it?

The irony of it is that that someone took time from their "important" life to post their annoyance with your being annoyed with something else.

I suppose the only real crises in life are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, poverty in the world, environmental degradation, and on and on. We do what we can about those real crises. Yet we still are allowed time in our own worlds to face our own priorities and issues.

Someone, indeed, needs to "move on". I hope to a place -- an internet forum maybe -- for the discussion of stress management. No one needs to dismiss what upsets us and no one needs to belittle the opinions of others.

Others would like to discuss this issue. Let them.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 4:02PM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

To be fair, I've seen rude, know-it-all MG's, and rude, know-it-all degreed horticulturists. I've also met plumb ignorant people in both categories, and I've met wonderful people (enthusiastic and/or knowledgeable) in both categories. A lot like people you meet in any situation, huh?

About my only consistent beef is the big-box stores' so-called "certified garden center" employees. Some ARE knowledgeable, but that knowledge didn't come from a Lowe's/HD/Wal-Mart badge with a dubious training program. Most of the good nursery personnel at the big box nurseries got their horticultural experience elsewhere.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to each and every would-be gardener or active gardener to engage in a program of observation and self-education--that's the lesson I got from my grandma, an avid and wonderful gardener.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 4:40PM
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happyhoe(z6 OH)

AMEN! Nice to know someone else has noticed this.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 1:07PM
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dabprop(z6 PA)

I have the title but use it sparingly,I find it pretentious and puts other pros in a defensive mode.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 2:14PM
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Blond_Bimbo(5 OH)

We don't like know it alls in our group, rather we like the ones who know how to joke and laugh at themselves and at others. It is a lifetime of learning about horticulture and dealing with the public when you are an mg'r. It's lots of fun when they try to schmooze me at garden centers.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 5:01PM
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mdgardengurl(MD Zone 7)

Gosh....I want to take the course here this coming Spring. It is my love of gardening and wanting to learn as much as possible about it that is my reason for taking the course. I hope to inspire others to garden and look forward to the community service part of the course. I think that a person who is rude anyway will become a rude MG, and someone who is kind and helpful will be a kind and helpful MG. We have some local 'know-it-all' MGs who don't, and some others who are an invaluable source of help and knowledge. It is not the title that determines the personality of the person, but there are some people who 'power-trip' with any kind of title. Just my 2 cents....

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 9:40AM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

Webster defines the adjective, I am "skilled and proficient" at brag, just fact.

Not fact, because most people do not use the English language as written in Webster's.

To be honest I am grateful of the MG program. I too ran into arrogant and rude MGs and decided against becoming a master gardener. I decided instead to go to school, and get a degree in hort. I will admit the title Master Gardener does bother me because of what it implies.
Even with my degree I am not a master.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 3:18AM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

As a Certified Master Gardener for the past 2.5 years now, I, too, somewhat object to the title, although I think it's a bit too late in the game, probably, to change it.

Long before I applied to take the course I kept hearing, from time to time, about "master gardeners," and I had all these visions in my head of people with these lofty gardening degrees and knowledge and expertise beyond compare... Then I took and graduated the course, did my volunteer hours (which I continue to do, as I can) and realized that a "Master Gardener" is really just a step up from the average untrained home gardener who just does things how mom or granny taught them, and sometimes a step DOWN from that.

My next-door neighbor has been on the waiting list for the class for two years, now, at my urging... He would have gotten in this year, but his new part-time librarian job had him working afternoons the day the class is taught and the evening class has a several year backlog... Doesn't really matter, as I tell him all the time that I still consider him a superior gardener to me... He was doing it in earnest long before I was and has much prettier flower beds to prove it... He does what he learned from his mom, his aunts and his granny... and from books he's read.

Strangely, I actually had this impression prior to actually going through the process that a "Master Gardener" was somewhere BETWEEN a horticulturist and a botanist... BULL! Someone with even a 2-year degree in horticulture -- like the fellow I do volunteer work for at Hatcher Garden -- has IMMENSELY more training in plants and gardening than a Master Gardener receives -- much less the folks with 4-year or more advanced degrees.

This is NOT to say that some Master Gardeners may not surpass even the doctoral botany and horticurtural people in their knowledge and expertise without ever taking any OFFICIAL class other than Master Gardener training... Certainly, if one reads every book out there... is a voracious consumer and applies all that knowledge, experiments with plants and so forth, degrees can mean very little.

BUT humility means VERY MUCH, and the wisest gardeners are generally the humblest.

I try to take my cue from one of America's greatest early gardeners and Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, who said, "Though an old man, I am but a young gardener."

Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 1:47AM
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hemnut_in(z5 North IN)

I found the Master Gardener course fun, educational, and worthwhile. I also found how much there is to gardening that I didn't know, despite the fact that I've been at it (more or less constantly) for forty years or so. In our MG club, we learn a lot from each other, outside speakers and field trips, so I find it still worth the effort. I don't apologize for being one, but I'm sorry you met a bad one. Most are pretty down to earth (so to speak)and love to talk to anybody that likes growing things. There are jerks in just about any area, whether in a hobby or on the job. Don't let it spoil the bunch for you!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 3:51PM
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The Master Gardener course in my county is taught at a high school level. It has a lot of good information.....very good information. However many NJ Master Gardeners think the course is 'all-knowing', when it is only the beginning. The Extension Service of the Ag Dept. has created a snob-like 'Master Gardener Educator' group. Education is a dangerous thing. It should teach you what you don't know not that you know it all.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 11:17PM
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Midnight_Moon(9 Arizona)

wow I know a master gardener she lives in arizona and yes she thinks she knows it all I do understand how you feel and she has probably made some or most of the rude posts on here with several different names just let it go move on and say to your self it is not worth letting a MG get me all upset they put their bulbs in the ground the same way we do hun hope it gets better

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 11:42PM
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The particular attitude you are talking about certainly was part of the individual's makeup before he/she achieved the Master Gardener qualification. I wonder about the selection process that such people get accepted into the program.

A case could be made for people's tolerance only being exceeded by their intolerance... ;-)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 5:30PM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

What's kept me away from becoming active with the local MG groups (I was active in Kansas) has very little to do with rudeness on anyone's part.

1) I work full-time and then some

2) My own garden takes priority in my free time, and that's a LOT of time and energy

3) Some people get kind of offended/insecure because I have a strong science background. I don't MEAN to make anyone feel inferior--honest. I don't MEAN to talk above anyone's heads. It's just that I get all excited and start chattering and assume that everyone else understands what I'm rattling on about. I mean, Meconopsis are some of the most gorgeous plants, but they *are* monocarpic and prefer a more montane climate than down here in the valley and.....(just an example of what happens when I get all excited about plants)

4) For some reason I just haven't gotten off my duff and DONE it.

But I've never encountered a disproportionate amount of rudeness or arrogance among MG's--they are as rude or as friendly or as crazy as any other group of people.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 4:43PM
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marie99(z8 SC)

I had a MG tell me I don't know how to compost even though I've been doing it since I was 12. My health prevents me from turning it every 15 minutes so I'm doing it wrong. I can't tell her percentages of what I stick in there, so it's bad. I don't mind if a certain pile is hot or cold today, and I'm not taking his temperature. Compost is the end result of rot. Dead things rot. My compost doesn't smell, so how wrong can it be? It does not draw rodents either. I do add milk, grease, bones, meat and eggs, but I know how. She doesn't.

I also made the unforgivable error of buying azaleas from Piggly Wiggly because I liked the color. You simply can't own unnamed strains of flowers, it isn't done. Not allowed to buy them at the Pig either.

I made the mistake of inviting her over here to give me her opinion about a area that gets no shade and no water and she just got all kinds of snooty about silly things.

I decided to join up myself and forget all about her. I called the program managers to see about taking and they asked me what garden clubs I belong to. When I said none, they became very frosty and discouraged me from signing up.
I think the first thing they teach them here is bad attitude.

I think you could just read and teach yourself all you ever want to know.

You want a garden club? Come over here and I'll give you a frosty, cold one and we can talk about learning things the hard way all day.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 9:55PM
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tommie_jo(z8b TX)

Ive been an "active" Master Gardener volunteer for over 5 years now contributing about 300 hours per year, many of those answering phoned in questions to the county Cooperative Extension office. I can tell you a "know it all" attitude just doesnÂt cut it, one has to be polite, respectful and most of all, helpful to all callers. Many questions are seasonal yet mixed in are those requiring research to answer, the latter are learning experiences for me too!

When meeting the public at various volunteer events or just visiting nurseries on my own, I listen to others, donÂt push my Master Gardener title on anyone; itÂs not about me  itÂs about the Master Gardener Program which I represent as an ambassador and as an unpaid employee.

Just think of all the thousands of Master Gardeners across this county that have the right attitude and give hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours! Hats off to all you generous Master Gardeners!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to You and Yours!


    Bookmark   December 4, 2005 at 12:31PM
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I haven't had such a great experience with MGs either, but in a different context. I just felt that they ignored what I had asked and talked about something irrelevant, or answered something that I didn't ask (if that makes sense to anyone else besides myself). Also, they didn't always give correct information or very helpful information.

But it's a free service and they're volunteering their time (I still don't like that people are being made to pay fees in order to volunteer, though I understand the purpose of the fees) and I'm grateful that they at least have good intentions. If you run into a know it all, or some one with an attitude, as you will with all walks of like, just remove yourself from their proximity if you can. It doesn't make sense to be around some one who is acting in an unpleasant way, if possible.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 2:02AM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

The fee cover training costs, in NM it pays for the MG manual. Which, IMO, isn't worth it.
I've bought MG manuals from other states that are much better and more useful. The NM manual is a poor use of paper.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 9:21AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

My thought, to the original poster, is that it really doesn't have anything to do with the fact that these people were Master Gardeners. What it has to do with is the type of people these particular people are. You're going to run into that sort of person here and there no matter what their area of expertise. The thing to remember is that they are not a good example of the general population of Master Gardeners. I'm not a MG myself, though I would love to be if I had the time to do the volunteer work, but I've met many who are and for the most part have found the ones I've talked with to be gracious and very helpful.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:38PM
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I was reading this entire post last night and went to bed a little upset about a few things. While lying in bed I thought about it some more and decided to respond.
First off, YES, absolutely there are Master Gardeners that think they know everything, we have them in our group. I have been one since 2007. I can not, nor will not, defend their actions.....they drive me crazy.
However, what was bothering me the most was the numerous people that refuse to let others know that they ARE a Master Gardener.
Why not?
I know, you get the "Oh, you are one of those that know it all huh?" I get that. I actually work at a wholesale nursery and the Owner, Office Manager and my immediate supervisor have more combined time in horticulture than I have been alive! (I am 46) They tease me all the time about the know it all MG. Do they know more than me, ABSOLUTELY!! Do they come to me and ask my opinion? YES! Have they been stumped about something and I came up with the answer...YES!
I am also a certified professional nurseryman here in South Carolina. Does that make me better than an average MG, maybe, do I let that go to my head? HELL NO! I am FOREVER researching, whether it be in new books, online, or picking other peoples brains.
It is all the person's personality to begin with.
For all you out there that want to become an MG or are afraid to admit that you are one, here is some advice.
Become an absolute expert in a single category.
Here, I am known as 'The Citrus Guy". Do I know everything about Citrus? No! Does one of the local horticulture teachers out at the technical college call me when there is a Citrus problem? Yes. Same thing with most of the other garden centers, hort agents and MG's. I feel good when they come to me, I don't rub it in or anything like that....WE are ALL on the same team here folks!! Teaching!!!
This is how I LOVE screwing with the "know it alls". At events when they start to show their butt, I start asking them about a Citrus problem that I KNOW they have no clue about. They get flustered and walk away. Is it mean of mean to do this? Probably. Does it teach them a little humility? Hopefully.
I say this all to reinforce my point. Be proud of being a MG. You had the guts to go through a 13 (+/-) week course. Most people today can barely sit through a 2 hour TV show! You may not know it all, and you never will, but you have the knowledge to know where to look for an answer.
I ask this question all the time about the program: Why hasn't Google put us out of business?
Because the average person does not know what to ask or where to look. We, as MG's have probably come across their problem in one of our classes, known somebody else that has had it, or have had it ourselves.
Another case in point:
I have received numerous calls about an odd color on clients oranges, (the fruit). Nobody around knew what it was, they called me. I had it diagnosed in a matter of seconds, Citrus Rust Mites. I ONLY knew that because I had just recently seen it in one of my books.
I am NOT trying to brag! People think that because I know a lot about Citrus that I know other things, to a small degree I do, BUT, if somebody asks me about Turf Grass....I tell them to call Mike (Our turf guy), if it is Roses, call Orlando (Our Rosarian) and so on. They do the same for me. And of course there are others on different subjects.
The client has even asked me why I don't know the answer right there, I explain to them that nobody knows it all and that is just not my expertise. Many times they appreciate that. I also tell them I would rather tell you I DON'T know then to give you bad advice that could kill your turf. If it something simple, I will answer it. Something like:

"Why is my grass turning Yellow?"
"When was the last time you fed it?"
"I have never fed it?"
"It's hungry, feed it according to the lawn fertilizer directions"
Easy enough

So, all I am saying is, find your niche and learn as much as possible. Even to this day, I do many lectures a year on Citrus, I go back and reread some of my books on the subject, occasionally I will say something like "oh yea, I forgot about that".

Okay, now to address the folks that are apprehensive about the phones or other ways to get their hours each year.
One of my favorite ways is to write.
You will need to check with your local extension agent, but mine loves my articles.
I write a blog. Before you start thinking that it is one of those, "today I planted beans and my cat watched me" kind of blogs, mine is actually more like a magazine article.
In case the link below does not work, you can see it here:
I do in depth research and write what I think is useful information.
I do many other activities and events, but this is a great way to teach people and add even more hours to my total.

So, just to recap. Be proud of your MG status. Don't let the bad apples ruin your fun and ability to help others.
Learn a niche. Take the course then expand upon it by reading everything you can get your hands on.

Questions? Comments? Complaints?
Let me know.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Excellent advice! I did get a little frustrated back when I first became a MG (in 2000) because some people "assumed" that I was an expert in every aspect of horticulture. Nobody fits that description, there's just too much to know. I started in one "niche" but decided another one was more to my heart's desire so transitioned a few years ago. Even in my specialized area, I'm always learning new things.

I describe being a Master Gardener this way. It's like knowing what is in the top 1/2 inch of water in a pond (the broad based knowledge we get in class and through experience) and having "in depth" knowledge about a very small area of the pond (what we "specialize" in.) We can delve deeper than that 1/2 inch when the need arises, but we simply can't know everything there is to know about the entire pond.

I love the MGs in our county and have met some fantastic people through the program. I'm very proud to be a Master Gardener Volunteer, and hope the program continues to grow!


    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Here's what I do based on a veteran MGer who said this to me of herself. Say that you are a "Member of" the Master Gardener organization. This way it does not sound pretentious. Many feel that the title is not the best title since the more you learn in the world of gardening, the more you realize you don't know.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 10:46AM
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People ask me all the time if I'm a Master Gardener. I'm not, but I have had industry experience in greenhouse production, landscape maintenance and trees. In reply, I confess that until recently I had never volunteered my time like MG's do. Somebody always paid me! I really admire the patience of MG's who spend all that time on the phone desk. Whew!

    Bookmark   last Friday at 6:21PM
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