Marjorie Stansel, who serves as president of both the Douglas County Master Gardeners and the Georgia Master Gardeners associations, said the Douglas group has more than 90 members, with ages ranging from the early 30s to the late 80s.
She said the organization should not be confused with a garden club due to the extensive training needed to be designated a master gardener.
“To become a certified master gardener, one has to first pass a background check and then attend 26 classroom training periods as well as successfully completing two thorough examinations,” Stansel said.
After the individuals attend the required classes and pass the examinations, each has to volunteer 50 hours of master gardener service in their first year within the community under the guidance of the University of Georgia Extension Office in Douglas County.
After that, each individual must volunteer at least 25 hours annually with the county extension office.
The goal of the master gardeners organization is to provide educational opportunities to instruct the public in the best methods of planting and growing fruits and vegetables and working closely with the extension service within the county, Stansel said.
“Our training comes through the county extension office,” she said.
The Douglas County Master Gardener’s group -- which Stansel described as a “shovel to the ground group who loves to get their hands dirty” — travels throughout the county teaching classes and giving lectures on gardening.
The group also maintains a 13,000-square-foot garden adjacent to the Douglas County Health Center on Selman Drive, which it uses to help teach about gardening, Stansel said.
All the produce picked from its garden is donated to charity, she said.
Sherry Beggs, the vice president of the organization who has been a master gardener for seven years, said she became involved with the program after moving here from England.
“My husband and I took the master gardener course together so it is now a family activity for us,” she said.
Beggs said she enjoys the knowledge she has received and the friendships she has made.
“It has also positively affected my social life,” she said