Master Gardeners Have Fun – and You’re Invited to Be Part of It
Article written by Jessica Strickland, Extension Agent-Horticulture
Q: How can I become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer?
A: An Extension Master Gardener is a volunteer for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. Many county extension offices have a county Extension Master Gardener volunteer program. Wayne County has a history of an active Extension Master Gardener volunteer program with over 30 volunteers. The mission of the Extension Master Gardener volunteers is to provide unbiased, research based information to gardeners on lawns, landscapes, and gardens. The information that Extension Master Gardeners provide are ones that guide homeowners in making environmentally sound decisions in their landscapes and gardens.
Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are members of the local community who enjoy learning, gardening and volunteering. Potential volunteers are selected through an application process. Applications are selected based on, 1) interest and commitment to volunteering, 2) ability to volunteer during week days and 3) interest in learning more about gardening. Ones selected receive intensive training from Wayne County Cooperative Extension office. In return, they volunteer to help the organization meet a tremendous demand for gardening information and advice.
The North Carolina Extension Master Gardener volunteer program is a very involved and rewarding program allowing people to learn about gardening while volunteering in the county extension office assisting extension agents in reaching people through educational gardening programs. In 2013, the Wayne County Extension Master Gardener volunteer program volunteered over 2, 200 hours and provided educational gardening programs to over 1,500 people in Wayne County. Programs the volunteers in Wayne County contribute to includes: answering gardening questions through a plant clinic, teaching youth and adult gardening programs, maintaining teaching gardens in various locations like the Wayne Regional Fairgrounds, Stoney Creek Park, Wayne County Veterans Memorial, and the Wayne Extension Office.
Anyone with an interest in both gardening and volunteer services can apply to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer. Applicants should be comfortable working with a diverse range of people and willing to share their knowledge with both new and experienced gardeners. In addition, applicants should have the time and desire to be part of an intensive science based training program and be able and willing to volunteer with Extension’s outreach programs. Because Cooperative Extension’s greatest demand for volunteers is during office hours (Monday thru Friday, 8am to 5pm), applicants should be available to volunteer and attend training during these times.
In Wayne County, a training class is held at the beginning of each year providing at least 40 hours of instruction. The training class prepares you to answer gardening questions and diagnose common problems related to cultivating lawns, fruits and vegetables, and landscape plants. Prior gardening knowledge is not a requirement to become a volunteer. One will gain much gardening knowledge through the training class and during their time as a volunteer.
The 2015 training class is scheduled for Thursday mornings, January through April. Training classes are lead by the county horticulture extension agent. We will be accepting applications during the month of October for those interested in becoming a Wayne County Extension Master Gardener volunteer. The application deadline is November 4th. If you are interested in an application, you can call our office at 919-731-1520 and we can mail you an application packet.
If the Extension Master Gardener volunteer program sound like something you are interested but would like to learn more, we will be having an “Introduction to the Extension Master Gardener Program” Open House on Thursday, October 30th from 9 to 11am at the Wayne Co. Extension Office (208 W. Chestnut St., Goldsboro). If you would like to attend, please register by calling our office at 919-731-1520. You can also look at the state website at www.ncstategardening.org to learn more about the program.
Being an Extension Master Gardener volunteer is a time commitment, but ones in the program will be the first to say it is a very rewarding program that allows you to help others with their gardening questions while continuing to learn more about gardening yourself. If you will be at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair this week, stop by the Wayne Co. Extension Master Gardener Volunteer gardens to see one of their many gardening projects and to talk with Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
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North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC 27533