Master Gardener class offered in Marquette August 27 through December 3

The Master Gardener class is open to anyone interested in learning more about horticulture and dedicated to teaching others through a volunteer gardening education project.

Master Gardener trainee, Liz Slajus, directs childcare students to observe and taste test the lettuce they are growing. Photo by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension

Master Gardener trainee, Liz Slajus, directs childcare students to observe and taste test the lettuce they are growing. Photo by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension

What is required to become a Master Gardener?

The Michigan Master Gardener program requires completion of two components in order to gain certification as a Michigan Master Gardener: a 14 week course and 40 hours of a community volunteer gardening education project. Participants attend class once a week for four hours and learn about specific topics related to successful gardening. Some of those include plant and soil science, vegetables, small and tree fruits, integrated pest management and diagnostics. Participants must complete weekly quizzes and a final exam with at least 80 percent proficiency. Once they successfully complete the 14-week educational component, they work to identify a community volunteer gardening project. They will then volunteer for at least 40 hours by helping others in a community setting learn more about gardening.

In order to continue certification as a Michigan Master Gardener, each year they complete at least five more hours of educational credits via attending garden conferences or completing online courses or webinars offered through Michigan State University Extension or other educational institutions. They must also complete 15 more hours of a volunteer project aimed at providing garden education in a community setting.

What does “Master” Gardener mean?

When we hear the term “master,” we think expert or expect they will know all the gardening answers. In actuality, many of them have varying degrees of experience and knowledge based upon how long they have gardened, the length of time they’ve been affiliated with the program and their interest in pursuing additional educational hours beyond what is required. Through their affiliation with the land grant university, Michigan State University, Master Gardeners are equipped with research-based information that allows them to provide unbiased advice to the gardening public. Master really means they are experienced at knowing how to find the answer and have supporting evidence.

How do I sign up?

Online registration for the Master Gardener Program in Marquette, Michigan, is required by Aug. 18. Go to: Master Gardener Program - Marquette. The program runs from Aug. 27 to Dec. 3 and costs $300. You can pay by check or credit card. There are $50 automatic scholarships for the first 30 Marquette County residents that sign up. Marquette MSU Extension funds are sponsoring these scholarships. Marquette residents need to make sure they select the Marquette County registration button. If you are from another county and are in need of a scholarship, please contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 906-875-0606 at least two weeks in advance of the class start day.

What do I get out of it?

In addition to the gardening education, the 1,000 page manual and the self-satisfaction from completing the certification, you will be introduced to a network of garden enthusiasts. Some have professional pursuits within the horticulture industry, some have similar volunteer project interests and some may live right down the road. As a Michigan Master Gardener, you are provided with additional opportunities to represent MSU Extension and continue to increase your capacity as a “Master” Gardener. Some examples include the Smart Gardening outreach program, the toll-free garden hotline and the Ask an Expert program.

Last year’s Marquette class is diligently completing their volunteer projects. Currently, 73 percent of the class is on track for earning their certification. More great things are going on in Marquette and the Upper Peninsula because of them.

See other Master Gardener classes being offered in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. For more information on a wide variety of Smart Gardening topics, visit the Gardening in Michigan website at www.migarden.msu.edu or if you have specific home gardening questions, contact MSU’s toll-free garden hotline at 1-888-678-3464.

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