Alliance for Community Agriculture: Have you ever thought about becoming a master gardener?
Are you excited when the seeds you have planted start to sprout? Look for other gardeners and ask them about how they deal with deer, voles, aphids or grasshoppers? Delighted when friends ask you for gardening tips? If so, you might consider becoming a master gardener.
There are approximately 45 master gardeners serving Routt County, and applications for the 2022 class are about to close. âMaster gardeners tend to be people who love to learn, are comfortable and enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge, and aren’t afraid to say, ‘I don’t know,’â Todd said. Hagenbuch, extension manager and agricultural agent for Routt County. .
Hagenbuch went on to explain that there are two main misconceptions about the Master Gardener program. The first is that it is a kind of garden club where everyone comes together to share information within the group. The second is that the main form of voluntary service that master gardeners perform is manual labor in the gardens.
The main role and purpose of Master Gardeners is to educate local residents on best research-based gardening practices.
âMaster Gardeners are delegated by Colorado State University (which operates the statewide Master Gardeners program) to disseminate gardening education,â Hagenbuch said.
Master gardeners accomplish this by answering phone calls and emails to the county extension office, equipping diagnostic clinics and information kiosks, serving as docents at the Yampa River Botanical Park, giving gardening classes, writing newspaper and website articles, and mentoring community gardening and greening projects, just to name a few.
The Master Gardener course starts in mid-January and continues until April. It includes self-paced online classes, live webinar-based classes, and weekly live Q&A with CSU subject matter experts.
Combined with local in-person classes and hands-on labs (COVID protocols allow this), students have the opportunity to learn at home at their own pace and to train with other volunteers.
âThe program and materials were excellent,â said Evelyn Cole, apprentice master gardener for this year’s class. âI learned that there were a lot of things I had done wrong! I am also very excited to try growing vegetables. I never had a vegetable patch, but now I have a good idea of ââhow to go about it.
The cost to take the Master Gardener course is $ 200, but scholarships are available. Upon successful completion of the course, a minimum of 50 volunteer hours is required by October 31, 2022.
You can find more information about the Master Gardener program and the application process at cmg.extension.colostate.edu. Applications must be submitted before December 8 and there is still room for future CMGs.
“Routt County benefits in many ways from a strong group of master gardeners,” Hagenbuch said. “They increase our office’s ability to answer residents’ questions, and all of the volunteer hours provided help educate our neighbors on how to make good decisions about their properties.”
Gwen Swenson-Hale is an Apprentice Master Gardener in the Class of 2021. She can talk about flowers for hours on end and still has gardening experiments – some planned, some less.