Master Gardener Program and the Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association

Master Gardener Program and the Master Gardener Association
by Ann Guthals

Some Master Gardeners have asked lately what the difference is between the Master Gardener (MG) program and the Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association (YCMGA).

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The MG Program was started to extend the effectiveness and reach of the county extension agent by educating many people in the county with advanced gardening knowledge who could then reach out to others. The gardening classes started in Yellowstone County in 1994 and now consist of three levels of classes with tests and volunteer hour requirements for each level. To remain a MG in good standing requires a certain number of volunteer hours each year.

To keep MGs educated and in touch with other MGs, there are also classes, field trips, and social events outside the main series of classes. The MG program is overseen by Montana State University and is part of a national program of master gardeners.

In 2012, a group of MGs wanted to provide a mechanism for receipt of grant funds and other donations to benefit the existing MG program which is dependent on government funding. The hope was that this outside source of funds could help keep the MG program viable even if there were funding cuts and would be a nonprofit vehicle to receive donations to help the MG program.

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These MGs started regular meetings and in 2012 created the YCMGA, wrote Bylaws and Articles of Organization, obtained a 501(3) nonprofit status, applied for grants, and began formal association board meetings. The mission of the Association was to raise funds to support the MG program, to supplement educational efforts for and community involvement by the MGs, and provide ongoing opportunities for connections between MGs. The current association also seeks to educate residents and decision-makers in Yellowstone County of the value of the MG program.

To belong to the Association, a MG must be in good standing as a MG and pay annual dues of $15. About 40% of current MGs are also Association members. Association members may attend Board meetings and run for the Board when vacancies arise. The Association is active in promoting various volunteer programs such as the MG activities at the Metra fairgrounds and community gardens around the city. YCMGA also holds several social events during the year including summer barbecues and a winter Christmas party. The financial and volunteer help from the YCMGA takes some of the load off Amy Grandpre, the extension agent who runs the MG classes, and also allows her more time to pursue other aspects of her extension work.

In addition to helping financially support the MG program with dues and grants, Association members receive discounts at garden-related businesses in Billings and at some MG classes that require tuition. Dues fund some MG projects directly through mini “grants” from YCMGA.

The new Association President is Brian Godfrey who is excited to expand the scope of the YCMGA activities in new ways. He is interested in developing a mentorship program to connect seasoned with beginning gardeners. He would like to see more MGs who complete the courses remain active members and hopes to bring inactive members back into good standing as active volunteers. Brian and the Board are looking forward to celebrating the MG program’s 25th anniversary in 2019. And, having developed a MG project sign, they hope to see all projects display these signs to further educate the general populace about the reach and nature of MG volunteer projects in the community.

If you are interested in joining and becoming involved in the YCMGA, you may reach President Godfrey at 406.606.0184 or you may look up the Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association website (http://www. to see Board members, minutes, articles, and a calendar of events.

Submitted by Ann Guthals



We had five Level 3 Master Gardener Participants: Brian Godfrey, Sheri Frederickson, Sherry Doty, Fay Danielson and Sheryl McCandless. Congratulations on qualifying and attending this advanced level of the Master Gardening program.

May the things you’ve learned help extend the knowledge you’ve already gained during Level 1 and Level 2, as well as help you in your outreach to the community with research-based information.

Also congratulations to Elizabeth Waddington for receiving her Lev. 1 Shirt and Certificate.

Subitted by Amy Grandpre

4 X 4 Square Foot Garden Winners

This year the 4×4 Square Foot Garden not only went through major upgrades, but we also had a most vigorous competition. Everyone did such a great job and it was a most challenging competition for our judges, Debbie Werholz and Rosemary Power, to undertake. (Thanks so much, Debbie and Rosemary.) The winners of this year’s 4×4 competition are:

First Place $50 – Merita Murdock

Second Place $25 – Roy Wahl

Two Third Place $10 – Ron & Joyce Hendricks; Charlie Hendricks

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Extra special thanks go out to our other competitors: Rick Shotwell, Joann Glasser & Pat Morrison, and Rebecca Starr. You all gave those who viewed our gardens a beautiful representation of the options one can have in small spaces.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre

Thank You & Welcome Officers!

I would like to express a special thank you to our Association’s outgoing President Bob Wicks and Vice President Sharon Wetch. Thank you both so much for 6 years of service and for being a major part of the force that got the Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association up and successfully running.

Welcoming our new association President Brian Godfrey and new Vice President Sheri Frederickson. Appreciate so much your willingness to serve the Yellowstone County Master Gardener program in this way.

Submitted By Amy Grandpre

2018 Flower Show

The 2018 Flower Show, hosted by the Thumb-R-Green Garden Club, had the theme of “Under Montana Skies.” The flower show was held Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the D.A. Davidson Building, in conjunction with the downtown farmers market. Of course all the displays were super, but especially enticing were the underwater arrangements…what a fun twist on flower arranging.

Thanks to all the Master Gardeners who helped in making this yearly event easier for all involved: Ann McKean, Bess Lovec, Charlie Hendricks, David Fisher, Gail Tesinsky, JoAnne Bylsma, Joyce Hendricks, Linda Walters, Marion Grumett, Mary Davis, Merita Murdock, Ron Hendricks, Vonnie Bell.

Submitted By Amy Grandpre