Winter is a great time to learn about gardening, since you can’t go outside and actually garden. A great way to learn more about gardening and meet other gardening enthusiasts would be to join the Extension Master Gardener Program.
The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program is a horticulture related volunteer training program based in many counties throughout the state. It has been part of Nebraska Extension since 1976. Master Gardener volunteers are trained by UNL Extension faculty and staff and then volunteer in their community. They contribute time as volunteers working with their local Extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their community. Participants are required to complete 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer service throughout the first two years of their involvement in the program. Master Gardener volunteers retain their certification through 10 hours of annual training and 20 hours of volunteering each year.
Each year the Master Gardener program is held throughout the state, including in Gage County. The programs are held from 6:30-9:00pm on Tuesday nights at the Gage County Extension Office. This year the programs run from January 31-March 21. The schedule for the classes is as follows:
January 31- Orientation– Nicole Stoner
February 7- Plant Diagnostics- Kelly Feehan
February 14- Turf Basics – Bill Kreuser
February 21- Small Fruit Production – Connie Fisk
February 28- Soils Basics – Brian Krienke
March 7- Landscape Design – Elizabeth Killinger
March 14- Shrubs-Nicole Stoner
March 21- Insect Physiology, Pesticides & Pollinators–Jonathan Larson & Natalia Bjorklund
This class will also be provided in Wilber following the same schedule on Wednesday afternoons from 1-3:30pm. It will run from February 8-March 29 at the Saline County Extension Office.
For volunteer service, most of the Master Gardeners in the area participate in management of many of the gardens in your community. Look around the landscapes in public areas the next time you drive around town, there are signs to show which landscapes the Gage or Saline County Master Gardeners help to manage. They do a great job and really help keep our communities looking nice.
The Gage County Master Gardeners have also spearheaded the Seed Library at the Beatrice Public Library which provides free seeds to members of the public as well as free programs throughout the year for education. They also plan the Tomato Tasting Event which has been a successful community event for 3 years.
The cost of the Master Gardener program is $160 for the first year, which includes a book, t-shirt, and nametag. For returning Master Gardeners the cost is just $10. Please contact me at the Gage County Extension office at 402-223-1384 to sign up for the program. The deadline for enrollment into the class is January 20, 2017.