Master gardeners train for months to help public

" Master gardener" has such a reliable ring. It seems like a status that can be attained only after Mr. Miyagi of "The Karate Kid" teaches you to "wax on, wax off" for a few years.

The truth is, becoming a master garden enthusiast has more to do with being a servant than being a master.

The regional branch of the volunteer program of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension began in 1975. There are now 135 master gardeners in El Paso County, all specialists in fielding plant concerns from the community and volunteering their time in gardens throughout the county.

But as people give up, move or die, organizers want to replenish the ranks with brand-new volunteers each year.

" We're not looking for people who understand whatever about gardening," stated master gardener Scott Wilson. An initial class on Wednesday is the compulsory first action to ending up being a master gardener.

The application is no guarantee: In 2005, 45 individuals used to end up being master gardeners; 29 were accepted into the program.

It's an intensive procedure, with apprentices required to go through a plant boot camp. They complete a 15-week course (8 hours each Thursday) on soils, bugs, plant and tree identification, weeds, turf grass and climatology.

After all that, the trainees are expected to be able "to supply the public with info about promoting a successful home garden in the Colorado area," inning accordance with the Extension's objectives.

Horticultural education is only the beginning. Apprentice master gardeners need to serve 50 volunteer hours during the next six months, 40 which should be spent at the Extension's help desk.

They can forgo the volunteer requirement, but will have to pay the complete $495 course fee, instead of the $195 for those who volunteer.

And offering is the genuine education. When nervous property owners been available in bearing a dead branch from their valued aspen or a portion of brown turf from their brand-new sod, the master garden enthusiast is their last hope for redemption.

" Anything you can possibly picture, we have someone who has asked that question," stated Wilson, who has been a master gardener for 3 years. "When somebody generates a sample of a dead tree branch and you can assist them find out exactly what's incorrect and assist them fix it, it feels fantastic."


After six months of service, these students finally become full-fledged master gardeners.

The work isn't really over.

To stay a master garden enthusiast, one must complete 12 hours at the aid desk, 12 hours of social work in the plant world, and 12 hours of education each year.

Most of these go-getters do even more than that.

Bob Short, the only master garden enthusiast staying from the inaugural class of 1975, said demand for their services has actually grown as more locals learn they can select up the phone and get aid.

He signed up with the program after his retirement as a meteorologist from the Air Force. He's seen more than 1,000 master garden enthusiasts come and go, but he stays with it website link .

" I personally have actually gotten a great deal of satisfaction from (being a master gardener)," said Short, who volunteers every week at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. "When I'm doing my own work, it's great to understand exactly what I'm doing. And it's good to share it with individuals.

" There's so damn much information out there, and so much of it is undependable. CSU and the master garden enthusiasts are attempting to put out excellent information, not sell anything. The motivation is pure."

As Short's time at the xeriscape garden shows, the service choices for master garden enthusiasts go well beyond the assistance desk. Master garden enthusiasts were important this previous year in planting gardens at The Classical Academy and the Carnegie Library downtown.

They likewise teach classes. Gardening in the Pikes Peak Region, a series of eight classes, remains in complete swing right now, taught mostly by master garden enthusiasts, and more than 500 individuals are expected to participate in.

The master garden enthusiast program is focused on property owners and the yard garden. It can be challenging to garden effectively in this region, and it's nice to have somewhere to turn when things aren't working out. Thanks to master garden enthusiasts, everybody in El Paso County has that resource at their fingertips.

Why do these individuals do it?

" I take pleasure in being practical," Wilson said. "What makes it beneficial is when you get a call back and they state 'Thanks. It worked.'".

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