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Are you a Master Gardener in the making?

Norm Smith is a gardening enthusiast who turned his passion into practice and became a UCCE Master Gardener.
Norm Smith is a gardening enthusiast who turned his passion into practice and became a UCCE Master Gardener.

If you’re reading this, you are obviously interested in gardening. You may even consider yourself a gardening enthusiast. You might go so far as to describe yourself as being passionate about gardening. If you’d like to share that passion and gardening knowledge with the public, you might just be a Master Gardener in the making.

It may surprise you to learn not all Master Gardeners come to the program with an abundance of gardening experience. What they do bring is enthusiasm for learning and a willingness to share that knowledge. The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) trains volunteers from the community in a variety of subjects such as basic botany, insect identification and management, soils and composting, and new this year, turf replacement. After completing the training, Master Gardener volunteers educate the public via workshops, garden help lines, information booths, garden-based school projects, etc., on how to adopt sustainable gardening and landscape practices.

Sound interesting? Would you like to learn more? See what it takes to become a Master Gardener at the informational meeting at 1 p.m. Oct. 20. You’ll meet current Master Gardeners; receive an overview of program policies, the training schedule, and out reach opportunities; then tour the Demonstration Garden.

The Master Gardener program is accepting applications through Nov. 14. Applications are available online at http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/Master_Gardener_Training_Program/. Group interviews will be held in December, and the selected candidates will attend classes Thursday afternoons beginning Feb. 19 and ending with graduation on June 25. Once graduated, Master Gardeners are required to volunteer 50 hours within the program the first year, then 25 hours each year after that. Additionally, 12 hours of continued education is required each year to maintain certification.

Volunteerism can be extremely rewarding. Doing so in an educational format, alongside like-minded people who share your joy of gardening is fun, fulfilling and a continual means of learning more about a subject you enjoy — probably enthusiastically, and possibly even passionately!

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