Frequently Asked Questions
- What does it mean to be a Certified Dallas County Master Gardener?
- Who certifies Dallas County Master Gardeners?
- What are the requirements for certification?
- What qualifies as Continuing Education Credit?
- What is the role of the Dallas County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA)?
- What is the Volunteer Management System (VMS)?
- What are contacts?
- When are hours reported and why is it so important?
- How much are DCMG Association annual dues?
- Why do we have to pay our dues by December 1?
- What are our education requirements to remain a CMG?
- What are our Help Desk volunteer requirements?
- How do I continue to be "in good standing"?
- What is the Jump Start program?
- What do the different lapel pins signify?
- What are the rules regarding a Leave of Absence?
- What is a Legacy Member?
- What do the different name badges signify?
- What if my name badge is lost or damaged?
- Recertification: What is my option if I fail to complete my hour requirements?
- What happens if I attend a class and find out it wasn't pre-approved on the Ed Opps calendar?
- How do I get a class I want to attend approved?
- How do I submit something to Helping Hands?
- What does it mean to be a Certified Dallas County Master Gardener? Dallas County Master Gardeners are individuals who are trained in the Texas Master Gardener program by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to assist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in disseminating research based home horticultural information to the general public. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers to “extend” the home horticulture information from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
- Who certifies Dallas County Master Gardeners? The County Extension Agent-Horticulture as the representative of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has the sole responsibility for certifying Dallas County Master Gardeners.
- What are the requirements for certification? After your Intern year, you are required to have 30 hours of volunteer service, and 6 hours of continuing education. In addition, during your first year as a Certified Master Gardener you will be required to have 6 hours on the Help Desk.
What qualifies as Continuing Education Credit? Any horticultural program taught by a representative of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension qualifies for educational credit. In addition any horticultural program taught by a Certified Texas Master Gardener qualifies. Any other horticultural programs require prior approval of the County Extension Agent-Horticulture. You may check the list of approved educational opportunities on the DCMG website.
- What is the role of the Dallas County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA)? The Dallas County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) is a not-for-profit organization composed of dues-paying Certified Master Gardeners, Interns and Students in the Dallas County Master Gardener Program. The DCMGA supports Extension and the County Extension Agent-Horticulture in disseminating home horticultural information. The DCMGA has the ability to raise money to support the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension horticultural program as well as supporting educational and recreational activities for the members. The County Extension Agent-Horticulture works closely with DCMGA to ensure that all activities support the goals of the Extension horticultural program and follow the guidelines outlined in the Texas Master Gardener Management Guide.
- What is the Volunteer Management System (VMS)? The Volunteer Management System (VMS) is a website for reporting education and volunteer hours. Master Gardeners, Interns and Students are required to report all of their volunteer and continuing education hours through the VMS website.
What are contacts? Extension reports all interaction between Extension and the public. In order to report this number accurately each MG Project Coordinator has certain responsibilities to Extension. Each project has a dedicated person responsible for keeping track of the number and ethnicity of persons with whom the project comes in contact. Contacts must be reported to the designated Contact Reporting Coordinator of the project five days before the end of each month in which any contacts are made. The Coordinator will collect, tally, and report the total contacts number for each activity to the County Extension Agent-Horticulture before the last day of each month.
- When are hours reported and why is it so important? Extension is fiscally accountable to all of its supporting entities (USDA, the State of Texas Legislature and the Dallas County Commissioners Court). Accurate and timely reporting of hours is imperative to enable Extension to continue to be a life-changing educational agency. To help Extension reach its quarterly performance measures, Dallas County Master Gardener, Intern and Student volunteer and educational hours must be submitted in a timely manner. Hours must be reported by the end of the second month of the activity. For instance, January hours must be reported by March 31. Certified Master Gardeners must report their October, November and December hours by December 31. Interns must complete their 72 hour requirement by November 30 and report them by December 15 to graduate.
- How much are the DCMG Association annual dues? There is no requirement to pay dues to the DCMGA. Dues are $25. The collection of dues begins in the Fall and must be received on or before December 1. Dues are accepted during December but are subject to a $15 late charge.
- Why should we pay our dues by December 1? Timely reports must be submitted to TAMU, the Texas Master Gardener Association (TMGA) and the IRS; the Board needs to determine who will receive service recognition awards so pins and plaques can be ordered; timely creation and distribution of the DCMGA Member directory can be accomplished as well as finalizing the the DCMGA budget.
- What are our education requirements to remain a CMG? Certified Master Gardeners are required to have a minimum of 6 continuing education hours each year to maintain their certification. Education opportunities must always be approved in advance. Education opportunities that are approved are:
• Educational programs presented by a Certified Master Gardener.
• Educational programs presented by a TAMU Horticulture Agent or approved speakers from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
• Attending a Monthly Meeting with an educational program (one hour of educational credit).
• Serving on testing committees in connection with the school (may be counted as either volunteer or educational hours as needed).
• Completing the online educational courses offered on the TAMU website (maximum of three courses/year; one hour educational credit for each).
Interns and students are not required to have continuing education beyond those in conjunction with the school.
- What are our Help Desk volunteer requirements as a Certified Master Gardener? During the first year as a CMG you are required to volunteer on the Horticulture Help Desk (HD) for 6 hours.
- How do I continue to be "in good standing"? A Certified Master Gardener having signed all required documents and actively pursuing all volunteer and education hours requirements as required by the Dallas County Master Gardener program at the moment is considered to be "in good standing." You are considered to not be "in good standing" at the end of the year if you failed to meet your continued certification requirements for that year.
What is the Jump Start program? The Jump Start program is one facet of the Dallas County Master Gardener School curriculum. The purpose is to give Students hands-on volunteering experience by meeting and working with Certified Master Gardeners on their projects.
- What do the different lapel pins signify? Members are awarded various lapel pins in recognition of their valuable service to DCMGA. Lapel pins are presented at the February Awards Meeting.
• Texas-shaped pins – Awarded for accumulated volunteer hours (Recording the accumulation of these hours began on 1/1/2003):
- Bronze – 250 hours
- Silver – 500 hours
- Gold – 1,000 hours
- Trowel – 2.500 hours
- Rose – 5,000 hours
- Watering Can – 7,500 hours
- Wheelbarrow – 10,000 hours
• Shooting Star – Awarded for exemplary service. Awarded once to an individual.
• Glove – The "Dirty Dozen" group of 12 CMGs with the most credited volunteer hours in any one year. Awarded once to an individual.
• Tree of Knowledge - Awarded to the Speakers Bureau Speaker of the Year.
• Apple - Awarded to the Coordinators of the Dallas County Master Gardener School.
• President of the United States Volunteer Award Pin - awarded for 4,000 hours.
• Gold Stars - Certified Master Gardeners and Interns credited with 100 or more volunteer hours during a calendar year are recognized and presented with a gold star lapel pin. Interns with 100 or more credited volunteer hours are recognized at graduation.
- What are the rules regarding a Leave of Absence? On occasion, a Certified Master Gardener is unable to fulfill the requirements to maintain certification due to illness, illness in the family, or other personal situations. In an event such as these you should send a written (or email) request to the County Extension Agent-Horticulture requesting a Leave of Absence (LOA) who may grant a LOA solely at his/her discretion. An approved LOA will expire at the end of the year in which the LOA was granted. A LOA will not be extended to Students during the class training period.
- What is a Legacy Member? Individuals who have been Certified Master Gardeners for at least 10 years but who are unable to meet the requirements for re-certification may maintain a social connection to the Dallas County Master Gardener Association by requesting Legacy Member status and paying annual dues to the Association. Legacy Members may not represent themselves as Master Gardeners and are subject to meeting reinstatement requirements approved by the County Extension Agent-Horticulture if they wish to return to Certified Master Gardener status. If you are interested in becoming a Legacy member, please contact the Association's President.
- What do the different name badges signify? On the last day of class the Students will receive their Intern Name Badges (rectangular). At graduation, Interns will receive their Certified Master Gardener Name Badge (Texas shaped).
Certified Master Gardener name badges vary by length of service as follows:
- Years 1 through 4 – White
- Years 5 through 9 – Gold
- Years 10 through 14 – Platinum
- Years 15 through 19 – Platinum with one star
- Years 20 through 24 – Platinum with two stars
- Years 25 and over – Platinum with three stars
New name badges are presented during the February Awards Meeting. For instance: The class of 2010 will earn their Gold badge at the end of 2016 and will receive their badge at the February 2017 Monthly Meeting.
- Recertification: what is my option if I fail to complete my hour requirements? Certified Master Gardeners who fail to complete their hour requirements may request permission to begin a reinstatement process by submitting a written request to the County Extension Agent-Horticulture who will determine the requirements for recertification.
What happens if I attend a class and find out it wasn't pre-approved on the Ed Opps calendar? If the class was not pre-approved but was taught by a Certified Master Gardener or Extension Agent, it is automatically accepted for credit. If it was not pre-approved nor taught by a CMG or Extension Agent, it will not count toward your required education hours.
- How do I get a class I want to attend approved? If you wish to have a class approved, contact the County Extension Agent-Horticulture.