History and Structure
The successful Florida Master Gardener Program got its start in 1979. Florida Extension agents chose to maximize resources by using a "learn and return" model, which was based on the original Master Gardener program developed in Washington in 1973. Read more on the Washington State University Web site.
Within Florida, each county Extension office chooses whether it wishes to participate in the statewide program. Active counties select a Master Gardener Coordinator, typically the horticulture Extension agent for that county, who coordinates that county's volunteer recruiting, training, and management efforts. You can find a list of county coordinators here.
The Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator, Tom Wichman, provides overall guidance and a centralized curriculum to the county coordinators. The statewide office also issues programmatic policies that counties with active programs must follow.
For example, in October 2006 the state Master Gardener office released updated statewide bylaws, which are available online (PDF). In July 2007, the statewide office created an identity standards guide to help Master Gardeners and county coordinators understand the use of the Master Gardener name and the Florida Master Gardener logos, also available online (PDF).