In the 1970s Master Gardener programs began to appear at land grant universities across the country. The purpose was to train volunteers to assist the County Agriculture Agents in educating homeowners about the latest gardening practices. Federal funds, allocated by the US Department of Agriculture, and also state funding through land grant universities, supported this new Cooperative Extension program.
Rhode Island’s Master Gardener Program began in 1977. Nineteen volunteers trained and became horticultural information volunteers for the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension (renamed Kathleen M Mallon Outreach Center in 2008). Since that time, more than 2,700 people have graduated from the training program. More than 700 volunteers are active in bringing gardening and environmental information to Rhode Islanders,through the Hotline, community outreach programs, and many other projects.