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Master Gardener class set for ‘11

Published 10:20am Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You have likely heard of Master Gardeners working in your community or may have even spoke with them on the phone, but do you honestly know what being a Master Gardener is all about?  Sure, this special group of people is indeed avid gardeners, and possibly experts in some area, but they are more than just dedicated and skilled gardeners.  Master Gardeners are more importantly ambassadors of the local county Extension office; they are volunteers who love helping and educating people about things related to home gardening.  Their goal and primary mission is assisting Extension in helping all people, solving problems, and serving the needs of the community.

A Master Gardener Course will be offered beginning Feb. 1, 2011. Classes will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Tuesday night for 12 to 14 weeks.

Cost of the class will be $125. If you’re interested in participating in the Master Gardener Program or would like more information on this program, please call the Marengo County Extension Office at 1-334-295-5959 and ask for an application or stop by the office to pick up one. The application must be returned by January 12. All fees are paid when the application is returned. This is a regional class and will be offered to citizens of Marengo, Hale, Greene, Choctaw, Sumter, and Wilcox counties. The class will be taught in Demopolis, Linden, or Thomaton. Location will be decided based upon the membership of the class. Master Gardener class members must agree to a background check. This is necessary because Master Gardeners many times work in volunteer projects at schools.

The Alabama Master Gardener Volunteer Program is an educational program offered through county offices of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Through this program, individuals are trained and certified in horticulture and related areas. These individuals, in turn, volunteer their expertise and services to help others through horticultural projects that benefit the community. The Master Gardener Program trains volunteers, who work through Extension, to bring the latest horticultural information and practices from the world of research to their communities’ landscapes and gardens. Through the Master Gardener program, thousands of people in the United States and Canada have been trained as volunteers.

The Alabama Master Gardener training program provides more than 40 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction in horticulture and related areas. Classes taught include soils and plant nutrition; composting, plant physiology; plant pathology; landscape design and plant selection; weed identification and control; entomology; pesticide education, fruit culture; plant propagation; home lawn care; vegetable gardening; interior plants, care and maintenance of landscape plants; and bedding plants, and more. Courses are taught by specialists from Auburn University, Regional Extension agents from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, fellow certified Master Gardeners, and local horticulture professionals.

In exchange for the training, participants are obligated to return an equal amount of volunteer service time on projects that benefit their communities.

To become a Certified Master Gardener, one must return at least 50 hours of approved community service.  Examples include assisting county agents, answering gardening related phone calls, writing fact sheets or garden columns for newspapers, speaking to garden clubs or civic organizations, assisting with the next Master Gardener class, working on special projects within your community or city, or pursuing your own project ideas.

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