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Growing Green: Become an Extension 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.

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 2013, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers gave nearly 130,000 hours of service to their communities. That is an average of 52.8 hours per volunteer and a public value worth more than $2.5 million. These enthusiastic University-trained volunteers help Minnesotans solve problems and make their communities more sustainable, more beautiful, more knowledgeable, and more fun!

To become a Master Gardener, you must apply to your local extension office by October 1, 2014. Upon acceptance in your home county, you then take the Master Gardener Core Course. 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 2015 will be offered online from January 9-May 8, 2015, and face-to-face at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, MacMillan Auditorium from January 9-February 7, 2015.

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.

Robin Trott is a Horticulture Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.