Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms
Weekly Crop Update 11-17-14
By Mike Roegge, University of Illinois Extension, Adams/Brown/Hancock/Pike/Schuyler
The following article was written by Kari Houle, our Horticulture Educator.
Love Gardening and Plants? Want to Share Your Knowledge? Consider Becoming a Master Gardener.
University of Illinois Extension is gearing up for another year of Master Gardener training in 2015. You may have seen Master Gardener projects in your local communities, maybe even heard the tag line "Helping Others Learn to Grow", seen Master Gardeners helping out at Community Gardens, volunteering to help host Gardener's Palette, or a number of various other activities where Master Gardener volunteers share their knowledge of gardening and plants. Master Gardeners allow University of Illinois Extension to have a greater impact in local communities because of the dedication of our amazing volunteers. There are currently over 3400 Active Master Gardeners in Illinois.
The Master Gardener program began in Illinois in 1975 in Will County, since then the program is available in almost every county in Illinois, including all five Unit 14 Counties – Adams, Brown, Hancock, Pike, & Schuyler. The Master Gardener program is a volunteer program where trained Master Gardeners can volunteer and work on approved projects in their local communities allowing them to share what they have learned, as well as new learning opportunities where you can constantly expand your knowledge or horticulture, plants, and gardening.
The program is offered every two years in Adams County as a face to face training program and in 2015 will be offered on Wednesdays beginning January 21, 2015 and concluding on April 8, 2015. The training time on those days is 9:00 am – 3:30 pm at the Adams County Extension office at 330 S. 36th Quincy, IL. Topics for training include Botany, Soils, Trees & Shrubs, Landscape Design, Annuals & Perennials just to name a few. All of the instructors for the training are either Extension Educators or Campus Specialists that are well versed in their area of expertise.
We are always looking for enthusiastic people that are interested in applying for the Master Gardener program. You don't have to be a gardening expert, just someone who has some experience in gardening, are willing to learn, and want to share your knowledge through approved volunteer activities. The focus of volunteer activities must be educational in nature, but I always tell my volunteers to never feel limited by already existing activities and never hesitate to ask if an idea would work well as a Master Gardener activity.
The application process for the program includes an application, background screening, and an interview with the local coordinator. Once accepted into the program, applicants will be asked to submit a $175 training fee that includes the Master Gardener Manual. At the completion of training, volunteers will be asked to return 60 hours of volunteer service within the first two years – so for those taking the training in 2015, the deadline to complete the 60 hours would be December 31, 2016. At that time the volunteer is considered an Active Master Gardener and would be asked to return 30 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education in following years.
The Master Gardener program is also a great way to meet like-minded people that have a passion for gardening. If you are looking for a great way to be active in your community and love gardening, consider becoming a Master Gardener. For an application packet contact your local Extension Office or to receive one through email contact Kari Houle at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the program or any questions please contact Kari Houle, Extension Educator and Adams County Master Gardener Coordinator at email@example.com or 217-223-8380 or Joan Sullivan, Horticulture Program Coordinator and Master Gardener Coordinator for Brown, Hancock, Pike and Schuyler Counties at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-322-3382.