Spotlight Columns

Want to become a Master Gardener? Here’s how

By From page A7 | September 06, 2017

Timothy White
UCCE Master Gardener of El Dorado County

Interested in becoming a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in El Dorado County? Recruitment for the 2018 trainee class is beginning and, as a Master Gardener from the 2016 class, I want to let you know what you can expect from this wonderful program — and what is expected of you when you are selected to participate.

You will be training with a diverse group of 30 to 40 El Dorado County residents who span the geographical parts of the county —Placerville and Pollock Pines, Camino and Cool, Garden Valley and Georgetown to Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills. Your fellow trainees will have different life experiences — some long-term residents, some recent arrivals, some actively working, some laid-back retirees. People from all walks of life will have certain things in common — a love of gardening, an interest in increasing their gardening and horticultural knowledge and a desire to share what they learn with their El Dorado County friends and neighbors.

The Master Gardener class of 2016 started with 38 trainees and by the end of the program year in June 2017, 36 had completed their 15-week classroom course and practical (“get our hands dirty”) training, passed all their tests and fulfilled a minimum of 50 hours of community service.  First-year Master Gardeners contributed almost 3,300 hours of volunteer time, averaging over 90 hours per person.

And where did we spend our volunteer hours? You may have seen us at our information booth at one of the local farmers markets in Placerville, Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills. You may have visited the phenomenal Sherwood Demonstration Garden in Placerville, where we lead garden tours and field trips in addition to weeding, planting, spreading compost and upgrading drip irrigation. For the annual plant sale, we propagated the plants we carried out to our customers’ cars. We answered the phone when you called our helpline with a gardening question that had troubled you or we identified that insect or plant you brought to the office. Did you attended one of the many public education classes we offer in Placerville and Cameron Park, covering a wide variety of gardening topics? Do you read our articles in Village Life or Mountain Democrat? Children are an important part of the Master Garden outreach efforts and Master Gardeners provide assistance in a variety of fun educational opportunities.

What do some of the Master Gardener classmates of 2016 have to say?

Karen McNeil from Gold Hill wrote, “Master Gardeners was the perfect program for me as it melds with what I love: the environment and being outdoors. The education given by the Master Gardener program is in-depth and well-rounded.”

Deb Gearty from Pollock Pines found the Master Gardener Program “rewarding because it clued me in to all the various websites that are free and open to the public. You can find an answer to every topic for the home gardener. And if you can’t get an answer online, the UCCE Master Gardeners are in office and there to help.”

Ruth Haynes from Cameron Park said, “I met new colleagues and friends who are passionate about their areas of expertise. I gained new knowledge in areas I did not know, such as soils and pest management.”

Lydia Maerdian, a very new 2017 graduate observed, “It was more difficult than I expected, but pieces fell into place. Staff and students had a fountain of knowledge and we learned from each other.”

Have I at least piqued your interest in the UCCE Master Gardener Program? If so, check out cecentralsierra.ucanr.edu/Master_Gardeners/Becoming_a_Master_Gardener.

There will be an informational meeting held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, and one at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 30. Both meetings are at our office at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville. RSVP online at ucanr.edu/rsvp_information_mtg or to Robin Cleveland at (53) 621-5528 or [email protected]

UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling (530) 621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome at our office, 311 Fair Lane in Placerville. For more information about public education classes and activities, go to the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County website at mgeldorado.ucanr.edu. Sign up to receive our online notices and e-newsletter at ucanr.edu/master gardener e-news. You can also find us on Facebook.

A full slate of free public education classes in September are scheduled. There will be Seasonal Color with California Bulbs, Saturdays with Barry, California Native Oaks, Putting your Garden to Bed and What to Plant after Tree Loss.  all or look online for dates and locations.

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