Excited To Start Master Gardener Training
By Linda Summers, Future Master Gardener
Over the past several years, I attended several Master Gardener functions with my husband, Will Summers, who is a Master Gardener.
I have always been intrigued by gardening, with my mother being a primary influence. Growing up, we always had a big garden across the width of our backyard.
My mother worked weekdays, but she would come home, change her clothes and head out to work in the garden.
Besides being a terrific stress reliever for my mother, working in our garden yielded a multitude of fresh vegetables for our family. Some of my best memories are, with my brothers involved, sitting at our picnic table snapping beans or shelling peas.
My mother canned and sometimes froze a variety of different fruits and vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, applesauce, peaches, etc.–that helped to feed our family during the long winter months. Dinners usually featured a vegetable from our garden and dessert often consisted of fruit—fresh or canned.
To this day, I remain fascinated with growing things, and I admit that is a primary reason for my desire to take the Master Gardener training program through the University of Illinois Extension service. Education and learning new things are important factors in maintaining a healthy brain as our body ages.
I also attended some Master Gardener programs and meetings, and I believe Master Gardeners are some of the most interesting and engaging people that I have ever met.
The Washington County Master Gardeners take pride in being an energetic and active group, and if you read the Master Gardener Scoop article called “Becoming a Master Gardener” a couple of weeks ago, you realized the vast extent of the group’s involvement in the community and county.
I like helping people. Becoming a Master Gardener gives me an opportunity to perform community service in my local community. Master Gardeners provide horticultural assistance to homeowners in our area. We learn as we teach by sharing our knowledge about gardening.
This year’s Master Gardener training program takes place in Salem (a different Extension office is chosen every year in our five-county region).
The program runs from January 26 to April 5, 2016. Taking place every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. for 11 weeks (with the 12th week being an optional field trip), the training covers topics such as botany, soils, trees and shrubs, lawns, annual and perennial flowers, wildlife, organic gardening, diseases, insect pests, vegetable and fruit cultivation, and integrated pest management.
There is a cost for the training with part of that cost going toward the University Extension Master Gardener Manual. After my training period,
I become an intern until I complete required hours of volunteer work. Once I become a certified Master Gardener, I can pick my interest level of participation, but to maintain active status, Extension requires 30 hours of volunteer time and 10 hours of continuing education each year.
Needless to say, many possibilities and opportunities exist for fulfilling that requirement, including attending monthly meetings or attending the annual State Master Gardener Conference held at multiple locations throughout Illinois.
I am excited about taking the training beginning in January, and I encourage anyone interested to consider becoming a Master Gardener.
Currently I am the only person enrolled from Washington County, whereas other counties have many more people registered.
For more information, please contact the local University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program Coordinator at (618)526-4551 or University of Illinois Extension office in Nashville at (618) 327-8881.