Master Gardener Volunteer Program begins March 7
By By Steve Strong/Lauderdale County Extension Service agent
Feb. 20, 2002
The Lauderdale County Extension Service is conducting a new Master Gardener Volunteer short course this spring starting March 7. Master Gardener is an intensive 10-week program covering a range of gardening topics, and is designed to train volunteers to use their green thumbs to help others in the community.
Gardeners participating in the program will receive 40 hours of training in botany, soils, fertility, turf, ornamental landscaping, vegetables, fruit, weed control, and pest management. In return for the course work, the newly trained volunteers are expected to pay back 40 or more hours of service to the Extension Service.
That's when the fun begins. Master Gardeners work as a group on a variety of service projects, often involving local schools, churches, and community organizations. They also plan field trips and tours of gardens across the Southeast, both for recreation and continuing education.
East Mississippi Master Gardeners organize plant sales and swaps, and work closely with other like-minded groups in the area such as the Meridian Community College Horticulture program. In fact, they have an upcoming plant sale scheduled for April 20 at Union Station just one of the many exciting activities planned for 2002.
The EMMG group in Meridian also has the honor of hosting the 2002 state Master Gardener Conference here in July, which will draw more than 150 gardener volunteers from across Mississippi. Readers will learn more about the conference at a later date, in addition to other activities that the volunteers have planned.
The Master Gardener Volunteer program is geared for adults of all ages, and is open to anyone with a love for gardening who does not mind sharing their knowledge with other plant lovers. The new spring program will be filled with plenty of hands-on activities and opportunities for participants to get their hands dirty.
A nominal registration fee of $25 will cover the cost of notebooks and study materials that the volunteers get to keep as part of the workshop. The classes will be on consecutive Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MCC Webb Center on College Drive, and will consist of a half-day classroom and a half-day field study.
Anyone wishing to register for the Master Gardener program should call the Lauderdale County Extension office at 482-9764. The class will be limited to the first 25 who register, due to classroom availability and the intensive one-to-one format of the program.
Learning more about how to make your own lawn and landscape grow better is quite rewarding, but knowing enough to teach other neighbors how to do the same thing is even more so. Then when that knowledge spreads into other areas of the community, and you start to notice more garden spots popping up all over neighborhoods and school campuses, you'll know that the Master Gardener program is achieving its purpose.
Master Gardener is one of the dirtiest jobs you will ever love. And the best thing of all, is the fellowship that evolves from working with other volunteers.
No one person knows all there is to learn about gardening. But collectively we know it all, and that's why I expect to learn something new every time I teach a class. Come join us, and see what the cloud of dust stirring is all about.