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Would you like to become a Master Gardener?

Perhaps youre wondering what exactly a Master Gardener is and what they do. Now is the time to explain because we are actively recruiting new volunteers to be trained this fall. The Master Gardener program is run nation-wide by Cooperative Extension offices throughout the United States. In our region, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton and Essex counties have a Master Gardener program which I oversee with the help of our Horticulture Educators in each county; Anne Lenox Barlow in Clinton County and Emily Selleck in Essex County. This is a lot more than just an in-depth course in gardening. The purpose of the program is to train volunteers who will then teach others what they have learned, using a wide range of teaching methods. There is a volunteer commitment of 50 hours a year, and those who are able to fit in the time say its an excellent way to learn more about their favorite topic (gardening) while helping others. New training is held every other year in the Clinton/Essex county region. The training this fall will be held at the Extension office in Westport (well help arrange car-pooling for the training). Only the training is regional; once that is finished the meetings and volunteer time take place in the county and community of the individual Master Gardener vvolunteers. The mission of the Master Gardener Program is to train volunteers to teach others how to protect the environment and grow plants more effectively. Applications to the program are due in our office by June 20. Interviews will be conducted in July and notification will be mailed by early August. Program size is limited and applicants will be chosen on their availability, willingness to volunteer, communication skills, and a solid experience in gardening. The training will be on Tuesdays, September 9 through November 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A practical and hands-on style of presentation will be used, with an emphasis on trouble-shooting, prevention, and environmentally friendly methods of plant health care. The teaching will be done by myself, our staff and some veteran Master Gardener volunteers. The cost of the program is $150 which includes 50 hours of training, a large resource binder, pH test kit and other program materials. Examples of some of the Master Gardeners educational projects include: answering gardening questions that come into the office, creating educational exhibits, setting up exhibits at local fairs, events and farmers markets, assisting 4-H clubs or schools with gardening projects, writing articles for our newsletter and holding workshops on a topic of interest. For more information and an application packet call your local Cornell Cooperative Extension county office. Visit our Web site for more information and to for the application: ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu/mgclass.html. Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450 and Essex County at 962-4810. More information may be found on-line at ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu or by sending an e-mail to a Master Gardener volunteer at askMG@cornell.edu.

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