Volunteerism is a major force in Texas AgriLife Extension programs.

Master Gardeners are highly trained volunteers that deliver educational programs to adults and youth. Interns are recruited and trained on a yearly basis to help educate and disseminate research based information to the public.

Nueces Master Gardeners delivered the 2010 in-kind volunteer hour's contribution check to Nueces County Commissioners on April 20. Ninety-two Master Gardeners contributed 9,592 volunteer hours resulting in $204,000 of in-kind service.

"Now more than ever, there is a need to educate citizens on producing their own vegetables, saving money and promote nutrition," Stephanie Martin, Nueces Master Gardener President, said.

Vegetables are not the only thing Master Gardeners can do. They can help homeowners save water, reduce fertilizer and pesticide use. Reducing the pollutants that ultimately end up in our bays and estuaries is a major goal of Texas Agrilife Extension Service.

If you are interested in becoming a Nueces County Master Gardener, please contact our office at (361) 767-5217. Orientation will be given in late July and classes will begin in August. They will continue until December.

Michael W. Potter is a horticulturist with the Texas Agrilife Extension Service in Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.