Learn it! Grow it! Teach it!

Master Gardeners share their love of gardening with others

by Linn County Master Gardener Lisa Slattery

I urge all of you avid gardeners to pause a moment and consider becoming a Linn County Master Gardener.  Linn County Residents are invited to apply NOW to the FALL 2013 Master Gardener Class

What is a Master Gardener? Someone who loves gardening and is interested in learning more about gardening, plants, and horticulture. We are members of your community that continue to learn more and share that horticulture knowledge. There are currently 160 active Master Gardeners serving Linn County residents in nearly 30 horticulture based projects including several community programs. We teach, we answer questions, we give research-based advice on all things horticulture.  We sponsor a popular Winter Gardening Fair, offer garden walks, present classes to  the public and run a learning "hands on" greenhouse along with several display gardens.  We also continue to learn about our passion; yard, garden, trees, shrubs, pests, vegetables, perennials, and the list goes on. 

I became a Master Gardener in 2007 and the list of things I have learned in the last 5 years is very, very long.  I have had a lot of gardening success in the last five years in my own gardens and have learned lots from fellow Master Gardeners.  For me, becoming a Master Gardener has taught me so much more about my love of gardening. I also volunteer with terrific people and have met many friends - both plants and people! But the most rewarding experience is being able to share what I have learned with others. Gardeners do like to share! It's a very rewarding program and an honor to say I am a Linn County Master Gardener. I encourage people I meet who love gardening to join us all the time - and now is a great time.   

Master Gardeners attend classes taught by Iowa State University Extension staff and specialists. The program offers 40 hours of instruction, covering topics such as lawn care, flower and vegetable gardening, ornamental trees and shrubs, fruit crops, houseplants, and more.  Training also covers insects, disease, and weed control; soil and plant nutrition; as well as pesticide safety.

In return, participants are asked to volunteer 40 hours of service back to their local county extension programs by the end of the calendar year following completion of class hours. Some of the MG projects include: educating youth and the community, answering questions on the Hortline, organizing horticulture-related events, and planting demonstration educational garden plots. After the initial 40 hours, a Master Gardener is only required to volunteer 12 hours a year plus 6 educational hours a year to stay certified.

The deadline for applications is August 12th for classes beginning in September. Training is at the Linn County Extension Office September-November. The fee for the classes is $195.00.  If you are interested please contact the Iowa State University Linn County Extension Office at 383 Collins Road NE Suite 201 in Cedar Rapids, (phone 319-377-9839) or visit www.extension.iastate.edu/linn/page/become-linn-county-master-gardener or email mkenyonb@iastate.edu to receive an application or for more information.

The application deadline is August 12, 2013.  Applicants to the Linn County program must be residents of Linn County. I encourage all interested to apply, it is a rewarding program.

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