Wildlife Gardening consists of trained volunteers whose aim is to promote environmentally responsible gardening practices.
To become certified Extension Master Gardeners, Wildlife Gardening members complete over 60 hours of classroom and field training, along with 60 hours of volunteer work as interns, followed by ongoing yearly volunteer work and continuing education.
Through this training, volunteers dedicate substantial hours to community education in Arlington County and Alexandria City. They oversee seven demonstration gardens showcasing local flora and general garden care.
Plant clinics are held at farmers’ markets, a public library, and special events, while a gardening help desk assists with various inquiries. Public workshops cover topics like container gardening, composting, and lawn care. Support is extended to horticulture therapy and school gardening projects, as well as addressing emerging community needs.
Originating in Washington State, the Master Gardener concept established itself in the Washington DC area in 1978 and later in Arlington/Alexandria during the early 1980s as the Metro Master Gardener Program.
The original focus included staffing horticultural helplines and plant clinics, managing the newly established Arlington Farmers Market, and maintaining a pesticide-free vegetable garden at the National Zoo.