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Support the Master Gardener Program

Throughout this site there are links to documents of various file types.
Please contact our Statewide Program Leader if you require this information in a different format.

Frequently asked questions about the endowed chair position and campaign

More than half of WSU Extension’s funding comes from grants. Only 17% of our budget comes from state dollars. The remainder comes from federal funds, and contracted partnerships (MOA’s) with county governments. Just ten years ago more than half of our funding came from state dollars. Industries and constituencies who want WSU to support their efforts and businesses have endowments at WSU. For example, the Tree Fruit Commission, the Potato Commission, and Small Fruit Commissions have endowed faculty doing research and advocating on their behalf at WSU because of endowment gifts made by industry to WSU. The WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is similar to industry in that our program is a constituency of individuals who have a common goal: the success of the WSU Master Gardener Program.

The Gift Use Agreement (GUA) states that the Dean of CAHNRS or designee is in charge of the endowment distributions. CAHNRS administration has trusted Jennifer Marquis, Statewide Leader, to spend Master Gardener gift funds effectively. Regardless of who is in the Dean’s seat or the Statewide Master Gardener Leader’s seat, the funds MUST be spent in accordance with the GUA. In short, all funds will be used to support WSU Extension Master Gardener programs.

The Gift Use Agreement (GUA) states that the Dean of CAHNRS or designee is in charge of the endowment distributions. CAHNRS administration has trusted Jennifer Marquis, Statewide Leader, to spend Master Gardener gift funds effectively. Regardless of who is in the Dean’s seat or the Statewide Master Gardener Leader’s seat, the funds MUST be spent in accordance with the GUA. In short, all funds will be used to support Master Gardener programs even if we fall short of meeting our goal of $1.5 M.

  • The Gift Use Agreement (GUA), which is a legally binding document, governs how the funds are to be spent. The chairholder will work in concert with CAHNRS administration and WSU Extension Master Gardener stakeholders to support Master Gardeners statewide. The GUA is intentionally vague because this endowment will live into perpetuity. We must be nimble and provide flexibility for the Master Gardener program 25, 75, even 500 years down the road.
  • WSU Extension engages in a detailed and annual process with endowed chair advisory groups. These groups are donors and constituents who have the best interest of the industry, or in this case the Master Gardener Program, at top of mind. The master gardener program endowed chair will work with an advisory group to ensure the needs of the program are being met. The advisory group will have an opportunity to weigh in on endowed chair annual performance review.

The statewide Coordinator position will remain a part of the Program Leadership. It is stated as such in the GUA uses and purposes section. The Program Coordinator will work collaboratively with the Endowed Chair.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve been trying to operate using a structure that was established in 1975 when budgets were flush and there was enough faculty and staff to support volunteers in each county. We must think more wholistically about moving our Program forward in perpetuity. And this campaign is a five-year effort. It is a short-term initiative that will have a long-term, positive impact for all Programs across the state and will raise our Program to be an example on the national stage.

This campaign has a direct impact on our local programs, through curriculum, science-based horticulture practices, and cutting-edge research. In addition, a faculty chair can connect us with a wide range of information and experts nationally.

  • The work of the Endowed Chair will focus and deepen local county WSU Extension Master Gardener efforts across the state, providing resources to both large and small programs. Every Washington Extension Master Gardener Program will realize local benefits from a successful Endowed Chair Campaign. By contribution to this campaign, local efforts become stronger!
  • Program materials – for training, continuing education, and public outreach – will be updated on a regular and systematic basis. Waiting times for updates will be reduced, and there will be more consistency of information available on a statewide basis. In addition, curriculum will be customized to meet specific local needs (e.g., the impacts of climate change in the Yakima Valley).
  • The Endowed Chair will be available to teach both new and existing curriculum, while compiling a list of speakers available to support local educational outreach. For example, workshops like the Whidbey Gardening Workshop and Spokane’s Cabin Fever, will benefit from an enhanced list of speakers from which to choose. For smaller counties, easy access to faculty and professional speakers becomes more efficient and effective, further enhancing the role of local Extension Master Gardeners.
  • Many of our Extension Master Gardener Programs work to support local food banks. The Endowed Chair can access free or reduced cost resources for seeds, share best practices for food production, and establish state and federal partnerships to help fund and support local efforts. Successful programs such as the Food Bank Garden at Dirty Works in Thurston County may benefit from ideas about how to increase production and enhance crop health.
  • Program coordinators and Extension Master Gardeners struggle to find the time and means to establish effective state and local partnerships. The Endowed Chair will be able to coordinate partnerships on a statewide level that benefit counties across Washington. In addition, opportunities for grants and external funding can increase through partnership connections. County Programs will be able to better align with agencies such as conservation districts, wildfire prevention bureaus, and environmental organizations.
  • Our Programs are dedicated to science-based practices – those steps that are proven to work through strong research. The Endowed Chair will engage local programs in research being conducted by WSU Extension, while also identifying local research opportunities for county Extension Master Gardeners. In some instances, grant funding can be available to aid these efforts, while local graduate students and partners help with research projects.
  • It is critical that the curriculum for interns be reviewed and improved on a regular basis. The endowed chair can undertake this task, while also assisting local programs in customizing curriculum to meet specific community needs. For instance, curriculum for children, seniors, and special needs populations would not only be more readily available but also feature greater consistency across county Programs, further ensuring success of teaching efforts.
  • The Endowed Chair will become our “voice at the table” – an advocate for improved funding and program personnel. They will engage in important meetings and conversations, ensuring the needs and mission of the Extension Master Gardener Program remains recognized and central to the WSU decision-making process. The Endowed Chair will also represent the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Program at the national level, representing our work and identifying ways to improve opportunities to meet our mission.

WSU Extension is funded through a variety of sources including federal, state, local government, and grants. Federal Smith-Lever Act provides capacity grant funding through USDA-NIFA to conduct agricultural extension work, which constitutes about 8% of the overall budget. Other federal funding to support specific programs like Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), constitute 8%. State legislated funds make up about 17% of the WSU Extension budget. County funds account for about 10%. The majority of the rest comes from research grant funds, which account for 56%. These grants support research and programs like 4-H, agriculture research, forestry, community and economic development, and others.

The WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is funded through WSU Extension from federal, state, and local government dollars; through grants; and through county Master Gardener Foundations. Federal, state, and county dollars pay for salaries and benefits, and support resources like Hortsense, Pestsense, plant diagnostic laboratories, and the Pesticide Resourceand Education Program (PREP). In addition to salaries, county government contributes office space, computers and IT equipment, and local operations.

There are a variety of funding mechanisms, but the majority are funded through County partnerships.

Budget cuts in 2009 had a severe impact on WSU’s ability to hire faculty and staff. Just 10 years ago more than half of the WSU Extension budget was funded by Washington State. Today only 16% of WSU Extension funding comes from the State. The current financial climate requires constituency-based efforts that inform WSU about what our communities need. The Tree Fruit Industry, Potato Commission, and Grain Growers have endowments that have enabled WSU to hire several faculty and staff to support their needs.

  • There is an historic agreement between the WSU Foundation and WSU that outlines levels of endowments and defines what WSU will provide with each level. The current agreement provides for a faculty chair naming opportunity at $1.5 million. Campaign success will allow CAHNRS to appoint a faculty horticulturist fully dedicated to the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program.
  • Salary funding for the position may come from the Provost’s Office, CAHNRS, and/or WSU Extension.

  • We will have a cohesive statewide program and highly trained, competent, and engaged volunteers. Our Program will be fully supported. We will have the human and financial resources available to expand upon the qualitative differences we make and be able to back up the qualitative stories with quantitative data.
  • Qualitative stories backed by quantitative data will improve our ability to compete for funding (grants, partnerships) and will demonstrate to WSU leadership the importance of our Program and commitment of our volunteers.
  • We will have the opportunity to hire and partner with regional urban horticulturists to teach, train, and do research with local extension master gardener programs.

  • Local trainees and certified volunteers will receive up-to-date educational offerings from the endowed chair.
  • The endowed chair will provide and/or support advanced plant clinic trainings and advanced trainings on a wide number of topics, i.e., lawns, woody landscape plants, climate change.
  • The endowed chair will support the WSU Extension Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference (AEC) by recruiting speakers, support basic training by being a speaker, and recruiting speakers, and support local and regional events by being a speaker and recruiting speakers.
  • Local trainees and certified volunteers will have access to an increased number of up-to-date fact sheets and extension bulletins to learn from and to teach from.

  • Local trainees and certified volunteers will have the opportunity, in some areas, to be involved in research facilitated by the endowed chair.
  • Local trainees and certified volunteers may, with the support of the endowed chair, have opportunities to engage in independent research projects.

The incumbent will lead and support the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Program, collaborating with local programs, faculty, and partners to develop practical methods to improve science-based horticultural education for public citizens and groups. The position will focus, but not be limited to, establishing research projects, identifying grant opportunities, creating a list of available horticultural experts, and maintaining a viable Master Gardener Program curriculum. This work will advance the adopted Master Gardener Program Priorities.
An example of duties may include:

  • Leading and supporting the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Program
  • Collaborating with local programs, faculty, and partners to develop methods that improve and expand science-based horticultural education
  • Establish research projects
  • Identify and successfully compete for grant opportunities
  • Create a list of available horticultural experts available to engage with local and regional programs
  • Maintain a viable Master Gardener Program and continuing education curriculum
  • Advance the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Program Priorities
  • Serve as a leader representative for the Master Gardener Program within and external to Washington State University

The 50th MG Anniversary provides a unique opportunity to build statewide support for the long-term viability of the MG Program. The broader educational scope it can provide in the future will be important to every county in Washington state and every MG program nationwide.

CAHNRS Developments has a team working on raising funds from large donors. Funds will also come from the grass-roots efforts of extension master gardeners and community members who value the contribution extension master gardeners make to creating healthy communities and a healthy planet.

There are a number of ways you can make a gift to support the Endowed Chair Campaign.  You can mail a check, give online with a credit card, make a pledge, or make a planned gift (see question number 24 for more information about planned giving).

Every donation matters. If all 4,000 Extension Master Gardeners and 1,000 community members were to pledge $5 a month for five years, or a total of $300 per person, we would have $1.5 million invested in the endowment.

Yes, gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. The WSU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that is structurally separate from Washington State University and exists solely for WSU’s benefit, serving as the preferred channel for private gifts to all areas of the University. The WSU Foundation’s taxpayer identification number is 91-1075542.

When making a gift by check, please remember to include a contribution letter including the gift account number GF007065 and indicate the gift is to the WSU Extension Master Gardener Endowed Chair Campaign. Gifts made by check should be payable to the WSU Foundation and mailed to:

Washington State University Foundation

ATTN:  WSU Extension Master Gardener Endowed Chair Campaign

PO Box 641927

Pullman, WA  99164-1927

Connect the potential donor with Chalayne Foster or Nick Dolce with the CAHNRS Development office:

Nick Dolce,, 509-339-9758

Chalayne Foster,, 509-592-3278

The best place is on the WSU Foundation’s disclosure of fees and assessments page. A 5% advancement fee is applied to gifts processed by the WSU Foundation to help offset direct operating costs related to soliciting, processing, and stewarding private contributions. This advancement fee is effectively an investment in future fundraising to benefit the Master Gardener program, WSU Extension, and all of WSU.

Print a copy of these frequently asked questions.

Still have questions? Please contact us!

Get involved

Alumni and donors are welcome to participate in meetings, focus groups, and celebrations. Contact Statewide Program Leader, Jennifer Marquis, to learn more.

Resources to promote the endowment fund drive