Do you enjoy gardening? Would you like to know more about gardening? Do you enjoy helping others? Do you enjoy sharing with others knowledge that you have learned? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a perfect candidate for the Master Gardener (MG) program. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has trained over 10,000 people in the Master Gardener program since it was first offered in 1979. I thought I would use my column this week to give some background on this successful program and perhaps gain your interest to learn more about it.
The MG program provides participants research based training on many aspects of gardening. In exchange for the training, master gardeners share their time, talents and knowledge on approved projects in their local communities. Training consists of forty hours of web-based training and face to face instruction at extension offices and on the ISU campus. Classes are taught by Iowa State University Extension staff, specialists and master gardeners. After completing training, participants are considered interns until they complete forty hours of volunteer service. Once that is completed, they become certified master gardeners. Additional volunteer hours and ongoing training are required in the following years to maintain master gardener status.
Master gardeners are highly visible volunteers in their communities. Master gardeners may work and provide demonstrations at local gardens, schools, nursing homes or other community beautification or education projects or events. For those who enjoy working with the media, they may take part in an on air radio or television program to answer questions from callers. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can share your knowledge by giving presentations at gardening seminars. Maybe you are more comfortable teaching and interacting one on one and could discuss plants at a local plant sale, for example. These are just a few examples of how you can provide the community service that is asked of the master gardener interns. You may have talked with a master gardener at any number of venues including farmer's market, the county or state fair or at a home and garden show.
Butler and Grundy County Extension are planning to offer the Master Gardener program at the Butler County Extension office in Allison. Classes will begin in early January. Topics that will be covered include soils, botany, turfgrass management, plant pathology, entomology, houseplants, landscape plants, weed management, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), pesticides, vegetables, fruit culture, animal ecology, herbaceous ornamentals and home landscape design. There will also be a Saturday class on the ISU campus that will provide hands on activity and the opportunity to meet the instructors of the master gardener program face to face. Many interns consider the on campus session one of the highlights of the training. There is a fee to complete the training.
If you would like to learn more about the training, contact the Grundy office of ISU Extension at 319-824-6979.