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Master Gardeners Invite New Volunteers

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Master Gardener? What does that really mean? What do Master Gardeners do? Do you have to be a gardening expert? If you have these questions, we may have some answers for you.

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) invites adults interested in helping others learn about gardening and landscaping to apply to train as a Master Gardener volunteer. UCCE Master Gardener volunteers learn University-based scientific information and then share that knowledge with the gardening community. Master Gardener volunteers are people of all ages and from all walks of life with a common desire to help others learn effective gardening and landscaping practices.

A local Master Gardener volunteer training class, for Tuolumne and Calaveras County residents, will be held in Sonora, beginning in early 2012. A background check including fingerprinting is required to become a Master Gardener.

An orientation has been scheduled for Thursday, November 3, 2011 starting at 3:30 pm at the Tuolumne County Senior Center at 540 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA. Anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener should attend the orientation to learn about the Master Gardener Program and the volunteer requirements. An online application is available here or at http://ucanr.org/sites/CalaverasCountyMasterGardeners/Training_Information/

The training classes for new volunteer candidates begin Thursday, January 26, 2012 and continue weekly through April 26, 2012, from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm each Thursday. These classes include over 50 hours of intensive training by University of California personnel and horticulture specialists in various fields. Topics include irrigation, soils, composting, fertilizer management, propagation, plant diseases, managing home orchards, entomology, integrated pest management and understanding pesticides.

Even though the horticultural training can be intensive, being a Master Gardener can be a lot of fun. If you like working with children and teachers, there are a number of opportunities for school garden projects throughout the area. If you like chatting with the public, Master Gardeners set up informational question-answer tables at local home and garden centers. If you’re more of a “hands-on” type, our demonstration garden is an on-going food-and-flower project that hosts the local community one Saturday each month for classes about specific gardening techniques.

We staff an information booth, chock full of gardening hand-outs, at the spring Home and Garden Show. And we’ve had an award-winning presence at the county fair. If you love to write, we write gardening articles about various topics for this column. So bring your inspiration, your creativity and your energy. There’s definitely a place for you with the Master Gardener program.
A fee of $185 will be charged to cover the cost of all class materials. After successfully completing the training program, certified Master Gardener volunteers are required to fulfill annual volunteer service (the fun I talked about in the previous paragraph) and continuing education requirements (provided at monthly meetings and statewide trainings).
For more information, contact the UC Tuolumne County Cooperative Extension office by phone or email. The phone number is (209) 533-5695. For Calaveras County residents, the phone number is (209) 754-6473. The Master Gardener Program Coordinator’s email address is dlpowell@ucdavis.edu. To find out more about UC Cooperative Extension and the Master Gardener program, go to the UCCE Central Sierra website: http://cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Gardeners/
We hope you’ll join us in the Master Gardener program.

Debbie Powell is the Master Gardener Program Coordinator for Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties.