The Master Gardner program

The Lyon County Master Gardener program is always looking for area residents to join our group and volunteer as a University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteer. We will soon be taking applications for the program. We can really use your skills that you have as a gardener or even as someone who is learning how to garden. There are so many ways to volunteer within your own neighborhood or city and especially within our county.

I started with the Master Gardener program after watching PBS’s show, “Prairie Yard and Garden.” I watched the show and pointed the program out to my dad and said, “I want to do that.” He wasn’t too surprised and as they say, the rest is history. This is my 27th year volunteering with the program and I have many years left to go. Gardeners all have different likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses too. As a group, we have often picked out the areas that we know the most or enjoy the most such as vegetable gardening, or landscaping or maybe it is just fruit trees. We are often called or other gardeners visit with us about the challenges that they are facing in their gardens because we do not sell any products and the advice we give, is driven behind all of the research that the U of M Extension does with all areas of Horticulture. Master Gardeners also have to keep up with new and innovative ideas in gardening too. The U of M Extension offers us continuing education throughout the year. This way, we can keep you up to date on new diseases or new gardening techniques too.

We often volunteer giving gardening classes which many are for free or we help our residents with projects and give direction to community projects too. There are many backyards, parks and community gardens that have probably had the Master Gardener touch at some point and time. It was a Master Gardener who helped develop many of the beautiful gardens at SMSU and we have another community garden in progress at the fairgrounds which is a bioswale.

If you are interested in finding out more what it is like to be a Master Gardener, now is a good time to contact myself or a Master Gardener that you might know and ask to hang out with them at some event. We have events coming up at the fair and also at the library. You can see first-hand if becoming a Master Gardener is something that you would like to do. The first year it is required to volunteer 50 hours and after that the requirement is 25 hours each year at a minimum. This may sound like a lot but many times a new volunteer can work with another volunteer to get those hours. It won’t take as long as you think to accomplish those first 50 hours. There are so many ways to reach those volunteer hours that it won’t seem like much at all.

There is a cost involved with taking online classes in order to become a Master Gardener. We can help those out with this cost if needed. There are scholarships available and we want people to not be shy about using these scholarships because that is what they are meant for. The online programming is easy to do and you will not have to travel outside of our area in order to take the classes. If you need help during the online class period, the seasoned Master Gardeners in our area are willing to help you as best as we can. You can also go online to the Master Gardener webpage located at https://extension.umn.edu/master-gardener/become-master-gardener

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