By Katie Drewitz, U of M Extension
The Extension Master Gardener mission is to make a difference by connecting community needs and University resources to address critical issues in Minnesota.
Do you have an active interest in gardening? Do you have a desire to share your gardening interest with others? Are you willing to learn more about gardening and other horticultural topics? Are you able to communicate with groups of people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have the qualities we looked for in the Extension Master Gardener program.
In 2018, 2,404 certified Extension Master Gardeners volunteered across the state of Minnesota contributing 141,114 volunteer hours and reached 198,112 Minnesota residents. This impact can be seen in communities across the state and in your local area. These volunteers are extremely dedicated and put in time and effort towards continuing education. This education process starts during their first year in the program when they take the core course.
The core course is offered in-person and online to give flexibility to new and existing volunteers. The online course opens in mid-January. The in-person version also opens in January and takes place at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum two days per week. The completion of the core course takes approximately 48 hours to complete and can be self-paced if taken online. The core course fee is around $320 per person. However, financial assistance is available on a case-by-case basis. You can talk to your local program coordinator if this is a barrier to your ability to join the program. We are happy to work with you to find a solution that works for all of us.
Extension Master Gardeners work hard to give back to their communities each year. As a first-year Extension Master Gardener you will put in 50 hours of volunteer time. Each year after that the required amount is just 25 hours. Many volunteers far exceed this number because they are excited and passionate about the program. Your local program coordinator and fellow volunteers will help you discover volunteer opportunities in your county. These opportunities may be tailored to your specific areas of interests.
If you are interested in becoming and Extension Master Gardener or learning more about the program, please contact your local program coordinator. The applications are now available, and we look forward to welcoming new volunteers in 2020. All applications must be submitted no later than Oct. 1, 2019. Residents of Stearns and Benton Counties can contact Katie Drewitz at (320) 255-6169 ext. 1, or firstname.lastname@example.org.