If you have a desire to learn more about gardening and share your knowledge with others, the University of Illinois Extension master-gardener volunteer program may be for you. You don't have to be a gardening expert to become a master gardener. All you need is an interest in gardening, a willingness to learn about horticulture, a desire to share your knowledge with others, and time to volunteer.
Participants in the master-gardener program learn the basics of what it takes to be a successful gardener. Trainees receive in-depth unbiased, research-based training from University of Illinois Extension educators and specialists. The basic training consists of 60 hours of classroom instruction covering such subjects as vegetables, trees, herbaceous ornamentals, insects, soils, fertilizers, and tree and shrub care.
After the successful completion of training, master-gardener interns have many opportunities to complete the required 60 hours of volunteer internship to become certified.
Master gardeners answer gardening questions received by the local extension service. In Sangamon and Menard counties, they are also involved in such community projects as Plant a Row for the Hungry, juvenile detention center vegetable gardens, nursing-home horticulture programs, and the Junior Master Gardener program. In addition, master gardeners plan, plant, and maintain the demonstration gardens at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
The University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit will be accepting applications for the winter master-gardener training program until Nov. 15. For an application or more information, call 217-782-4617. For a more detailed description of the program, visit www.extension.uiuc.edu/mg/.
Masters of their terrain
Five area gardeners were recently recognized for their outstanding contributions to the University of Illinois Extension master-gardener program.
Winners Jane Morris of Rochester and Karen Grant, Ann Pictor, Barbara Rogers, and Gail Savidge, all of Springfield, represent the Sangamon-Menard Unit of the University of Illinois Extension.
This year's honorees were among 36 master gardeners recognized at a statewide conference held Sept. 10 in Decatur.
To be eligible for this award, a master gardener must have volunteered more than 180 hours and made an outstanding contribution to the program.