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What is a Master Gardener?

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Submitted by Shirley Campbell

Ellis County Master Gardener

Master Gardeners are trained members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens.

They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and to help others and be able to communicate with diverse groups of people.

Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their Texas AgriLife Extension Service office to provide horticultural information to their communities.

Is the Master Gardener program for me?

To help you decide if you should apply to be a Master Gardener, ask yourself these questions:

Do I want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants?

Am I eager to participant in a practical and intense training program?

Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge with people in my community?

Do I have enough time to attend training and to complete the volunteer service?

Training

If accepted into the Master Gardener Program you will attend a training course which offers a minimum of 56 hours of instructions that covers topics including: lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insects, disease and weed management, soil and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening, home fruit production, garden flowers, and water conservation.

The course and study materials cost is $150.

The Master Gardener training course will be held each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of February 2011.

Hours will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 505 W. Marvin Street, Waxahachie, Texas.

Class size is limited and attendance is required at all sessions to complete the program.

Volunteer Commitment

In exchange for training, participants are asked to volunteer at least 75 hours of service by November 1st following training to earn the title of "Texas Master Gardener."

The volunteer time will take place during the normal work week with the exception when we have the Annual Lawn & Garden Expo which is on a Saturday in the spring.

The type of service done by Master Gardeners varies according to community needs and the abilities and interest of the Master Gardener.

Some Master Gardeners answer telephone requests for information related to gardening.

Master Gardeners may speak to local groups and conduct workshops.

They may help establish school and community garden projects, work with 4-H youth, or assist their agent with news or radio releases related to gardening.

The Master Gardener Coordinator in the county Extension office decides how volunteer time can be best used.

Master Gardeners are representatives of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in all volunteer work related to the program; Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

The title "Texas Master Gardener" can be used by volunteers only when engaged in activities sponsored by the Extension Service.

Certification

Participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed the training course and fulfilled their volunteer commitment.

Application forms are available on the Ellis County Master Gardener Web site at www.ecmga.com or by calling 972-825-5175.

Classes fill quickly and applications are accepted on a first-come, first served basis.

Applications must be returned by Jan. 3 after which you will be called to schedule an interview.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

The Texas A & M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.


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