New growing season, new Master Gardeners

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Jan 5, 2014
I often tell people that the new growing season begins the day after the winter solstice. Even in the coldest days of winter, trees and shrubs are measuring the lengthening days in anticipation of warm spring weather. If you are anticipating a new season in which to grow and develop, consider applying for the Master Gardener Training Class of 2014.

In January, the Master Gardeners of Erie County will begin a training class for new members. This basic training class is on Monday evenings beginning Jan. 27, and will run into April. If you have seen the other class notices then remember that the deadline for applications is this week.

The primary goal of Master Gardener Volunteers is educational outreach for The Ohio State University Extension office. Each year Master Gardeners provide a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer work for Ohio State Extension, most of it as local programming. New trainees put in 50 hours of work during their first year before they graduate from trainee to Master Gardener.

The educational programming carried out by Master Gardeners takes the form of speaking at meetings, answering gardening questions, assisting with office projects, the master gardener booth at the county fair, and demonstration beds on the fair grounds to name just a few. Each activity, including several service projects, carries an educational component with it.

A Master Gardener receives top quality training and education from Ohio State University professionals and industry leaders. Some educational opportunities are for Master Gardeners only and not open to the public. The basic training classes will provide close to fifty hours of education. Each year, a Master Gardener is also required to get 10 hours of continuing education, some of which is provided through mastergardener-only educational events.

Even the act of helping others with gardening problems forces the Master Gardener to research and learn something each time they answer a new question. One Master Gardener noted that with all the training, education and outreach he saw “his own garden with new eyes , picking out features and details he had never noticed in decades of gardening.

This year, the Extension Office is also looking into providing remote training for island residents. The ferry ride and winter schedule makes it difficult for islanders to participate in a weekly evening class, yet there are many opportunities for a Master Gardner presence on the islands. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener you can get all of the details from the Extension website at erie. osu.edu, or you can call the office and request an application packet. If you are a resident of any of the Lake Erie islands, please call the Extension Office to discuss the opportunity. The application deadline is Jan. The class fee is $125 and includes all training materials. After completing the training and first year of volunteer hours, a portion of the fee (the cost of the book) will be refunded to all successful trainees.

By TIMOTHY J. MALINICH Extension Educator, ANR