Apply now to become a Master Gardener

Anyone with an active interest in plants and gardening and who is willing to volunteer to share what they know and learn in a University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Core Course is encouraged to apply to become a Master Gardener in their county.

The Master Gardener Core Course is being offered this winter at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 11 to Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will also be offered by internet online between Jan. 7 and May 3, 2013 with a new topic each week.

The core course consists of 48 hours of classroom instruction conducted by University of Minnesota Extension faculty on a dozen basic topics.  They include: best management practices on lawn care; trees and shrubs; insect, disease and weed control; soil science and plant nutrition; fruits; vegetables; houseplants, perennials and annual flowers; wildlife and others.

Along with classroom training, a comprehensive textbook, CD and a notebook with some 75 Extension publications and Yard & Garden Briefs are provided as references to participants.  The cost of the materials is included in the registration fee.

After completing the core course, training continues with an internship with the County Extension Office and Master Gardener program.  It consists of 50 hours of volunteer time donated to County Extension program to be completed within the first year of program participation. Master Gardeners work with their county Master Gardeners to determine gardening information needs and specific volunteer opportunities and activities.

Typical activities of the Chisago County Master Gardeners can include: answering gardening questions, the Spring Bonanza/Town & Country Expo, teaching classes, holding workshops, community plantings, plant clinics, the Chisago County Fair, gardening  information displays, press releases, the Junior Master Gardener Program,  Almelund Threshing Show, Chisago Lakes Home Show, Farmers Markets, garden tours, working with the elderly, and more.

Master Gardeners become certified upon completion of the first year 50 hour internship.  In future years, Master Gardeners need to volunteer 25 hours and complete 5-12 hours of continuing horticulture education through the county Extension office to remain an active Master Gardener.

In an effort to attract more interest in our Master Gardener Program and to assist with the ever rising cost of the Core Course, our group has decided to implement a new Pre-intern Program in Chisago County.

Basically this program will require interested persons to fulfill the following by Oct. 31 of the next year: Attend at least 3 monthly meetings Volunteer 10 hours at 2-3 events of their choice. Pre-interns will always be assisted by a Master Gardener.  They will spend a few minutes at either the October or November meeting to report to the group about their experience.

If these requirements are met, the CCMG will award the individual with a $200 scholarship to be used to help pay for the Core Course.

In order to become a Master Gardener you need to complete an application which will then be reviewed by the MG Program Coordinator for acceptance into the program.

In Chisago County for more information, questions, and to apply to take the course contact Sue Humble, Chisago County Master Gardener Program Coordinator at 651-277-0151.  Applications are due by Nov. 1.

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