The WVU Extension Master Gardener Program provides people interested in gardening with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills by taking part in a focused, 10-week training program that provides in-depth training in various aspects of horticulture outlined in the program topics. The program is offered in 44 of the 55 West Virginia counties through the county Extension offices.
Trained volunteers, through the West Virginia Master Gardeners Association (WVMGA) and in coordination with the WVU Extension Service, help people better understand horticultural and environmental issues by community engagement through gardening and beautification projects at schools, parks, public institutions, community organizations, and other locations. Under the leadership of Mira Danilovich (WVU Extension Service Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator) and key county Extension agents, Master Gardeners are making significant contributions in their communities. The statewide membership has stayed pretty much constant at slightly more than 1,200 active Master Gardeners. Between 2011-2013, Master Gardeners across West Virginia volunteered more than 60,000 hours in 624 projects contributing $1,144,700 (at the national value of volunteer time) to their local communities and to WVU Extension Service, contacting 22,000 adults and 2,500 youth annually.
Members of the Greenbrier Master Gardener Association have assumed a leadership role in the development and maintenance of demonstration garden at the West Virginia State Fair in Fairlea, West Virginia. Every August, Master Gardeners from around the state travel to the fairgrounds to volunteer in the garden and provide on-site assistance by providing tours showing the displays and answering questions during the West Virginia State Fair.
During the 2014 State Fair, rain was a daily event nearly the entire week. The attendance, though significantly lower than a year before, was still respectable. Two days of dry and nicer weather raised the total number of visitors to the Monarch Butterfly Demonstration Garden to 600 people for the week. For the first time ever, a portion of the garden become accessible to the handicapped and families with the small children and children in strollers. The newly installed concrete path has been a huge success.
In 2007, the West Virginia University Building was dedicated at the Fair Grounds. This building, adjacent to the gardens, provides a perfect site for exhibits, demonstrations and classes by WVU Extension Service faculty and volunteers. Both the new garden and WVU building are very active during the W.Va. State Fair.