By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: Apr. 14, 2018 | 12:15 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – The Prince George Master Gardener Association is truly greening up the Tri-Cities and surrounding communities.
Extension Master Gardeners have a green thumb–and then some! They are trained volunteer educators. The Master Gardeners work within their local communities to encourage and promote environmentally-sound horticulture practices, through sustainable landscape management practices, education, and training.
As an educational outreach component of the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), the Master Gardener program brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities–Virginia Tech and Virginia State University–to the people of the Commonwealth. All volunteers are trained and have at least 50 hours of horticultural classes. They also return at least 50 hours of volunteer community service to their communities, through their local Extension offices.
“I came to the Master Gardener program to learn more about horticulture. It has led to me having an opportunity to share my passion for all types of gardening with many different audiences. This is sometimes by teaching a class of new trainees, clubs, teachers, children, at public events, or working on a project at a demonstration garden, or even just advising an individual. I can honestly say that I have met and interacted with some of the greatest people in the world and gain knowledge every time I teach or give advice on gardening. I may not have all the answers, but I always know there are research-based resources available through the extension office and Virginia Tech that can help,” said Master Gardener Earlene Hogg.
Volunteer involvement is one of the most important and unique aspects of the VCE. This is in keeping with the Extension’s philosophy that active citizen participation in planning and implementation, insures the program’s success. Volunteers are a valuable resource and an integral part of the education mission of the Extension.
“I really enjoy the friendships and fellowships within the Prince George Master Gardeners. As a PGMG volunteer, I have the opportunity to work alongside people who share a common love of gardening and a passion for sharing their talents with our community,” remarked Jennifer Mason, Master Gardener.
The Master Gardener training was created by the Extension to meet an enormous increase in requests from home gardeners, for unbiased, research-based, horticultural information. This increase was a result of the urban and transient nature of modern American life.
Master Gardeners provide a resource for all Extension program areas, and for professionals from many other agencies. They also provide communities with locally-identified programs, including answers to individual questions via hotlines and plant clinics; radio, newspaper, and computer links; educational programs to meet targeted needs; education for the preservation of historic landscapes; urban tree planting programs; and guidance in making the natural environment accessible to all residents, regardless of disabilities, incomes, or where they live.
The mission of the Master Gardeners Association is sharing knowledge and empowering Communities. Its vision is to be the VCE volunteer organization, extending horticulture and environmental outreach across the Commonwealth.
The Master Gardener Association core Values are to respect the environment, each other, and those they serve. They expect accountability by wise stewardship of resources; To their organization, their communities, and each other. They also provide collaboration and are willing to work with a diverse group to reach a common goal; and they are always actively seeking out new partners.
Everyone can become a Master Gardener. The 50-hour (minimum) required training program provides research-based information on a variety of horticultural and environmental topics. Training sessions are offered annually. Pre-registration is required. Contact your local VCE office in your city or county for more information. Residents of Prince George can telephone their Virginia Cooperative Extension Office at (804) 733-2686, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. “You will be a steward of the environment; you will teach others; and you will continue to learn. Become a master gardener,” said MG Alexandra Wunderly.
Extension Master Gardener training involves a variety of topics, including: botany, soils & fertilizer, entomology (insects), propagation, vegetables, fruits, turf, woody plants, herbaceous plants, water quality, pruning, plant pathology (diseases), plant damage (diagnosis), pesticides, and landscape design. By completing the classroom instruction, you become a Master Gardener Intern. The title of VCE Master Gardener status is granted after completing a minimum of 50-hours of volunteer service conducting horticultural education programs. To complete annual re-certification you must contribute at least 20-hours of volunteer service each year and participate in at least 8-hours of continuing education.
“I love working with both children and adults on their first gardening projects,” said Master Gardener Diane Cook. “Being a MG has given me the opportunity to share my love of native plants with my community. Being a MG has also connected me to a large family of “crazy” plant people like myself,” Cook chuckled. “I am now part of a healthy plant family connecting research results to other home gardeners,” she added.
Keeping our communities clean and green, and teaching other residents how to do so; what a fun, meaningful, and worthwhile way of giving of ourselves!