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Published September 09, 2010, 12:08 PM

Growing Green: Becoming a Master Gardener

Do you say "rudbeckia" instead of "black eyed Susan", or "echinacea" instead of "purple cone flower"? Do you know the best methods for ridding a garden of Colorado potato beetles or how to best protect your prize winning tomatoes from blight? If you love gardening and love to share your passion for gardening with others, consider becoming a University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener.

By: Robin Trott, extension educator, The Osakis Review

Do you say "rudbeckia" instead of "black eyed Susan", or "echinacea" instead of "purple cone flower"? Do you know the best methods for ridding a garden of Colorado potato beetles or how to best protect your prize winning tomatoes from blight? If you love gardening and love to share your passion for gardening with others, consider becoming a University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener.

The Master Gardener program is a two-part educational effort, in which avid gardeners receive many hours of intense home horticulture training, and in return they volunteer at the local level in many garden related activities. In 2010, the 2,200 active Master Gardeners in Minnesota: taught classes and workshops, answered telephone inquiries concerning home horticulture, guided planting and educational programs in school gardens, presented successful and well attended county Horticulture Days, maintained displays and manned booths at the fair, sponsored garden bus tours, planted and maintained community gardens, and worked with many community organizations to convey up-to-date, research based gardening information.

To become a Master Gardener, you must apply and be accepted into your local county Extension program. Upon acceptance in your home county, you then take the Master Gardener Core Course which is taught in the winter.

After completing the core course, Master Gardeners are required to volunteer 50 hours the first year and 25 hours annually thereafter. Active volunteers are also asked to participate in continuing education of 5-12 hours per year, depending on the county in which they volunteer.

The Master Gardener Core course for 2011 will be offered online from January 10-May 11, and in person at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in January and February. This year will also see the Core Course offered at the West Central Research and Outreach Center at the University of Minnesota, Morris. The class is tentatively set for March and April; however, 20 registered participants are required for this to happen.

If you are interested in becoming a Douglas County Master Gardener, contact Douglas County Extension at 320-762-3890. For other counties, contact your local Extension office.

Until next time, happy gardening!

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