Have you ever wanted to learn about plants, gardening, or meet people and make a difference for others? Then the WSU Master Gardener Program might be right for you.

WSU Master Gardeners are community volunteers, trained by Washington State University staff on topics such as botany, weed identification, soils, lawn care, pruning, pesticides and insect management, plant pathology/plant problem diagnosis and sustainable gardening practices.

The desire to learn and do has been an important driving force in my life for a long time. I am a former agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Eastmont School District. I recently completed the training to become a Master Gardener in the Chelan Douglas Master Gardener program. It fits right in with my love for all things involving plants and provides an opportunity to teach others in the community about gardening.

The best part of the training process is the chance to work with the other trainees and Master Gardeners. The discussions and training are an amazing experience, as you learn the curriculum and get the chance to find answers to questions that may have bothered you for years.

The process of becoming a WSU Master Gardener encourages trainees to learn about science-based methods that will help you better understand how to garden in an environmentally sound manner. You will learn what works — and why it works — in your garden and landscape as you complete your training.

The training consists of 120 hours of instruction and covers a wide range of plant subjects for trainees. The weekly classes, which begin in January and continue until April, are taught by WSU Extension faculty and staff, Master Gardener volunteers and other experts.

After satisfactorily completing the training, trainees will become interns, who will then complete 40 hours of volunteer work as well as a Plant and Insect Clinic internship in order to become certified Master Gardeners.

Certified Master Gardeners annually volunteer 35 hours and complete 15 hours of continuing education to remain in the program.

Master Gardener volunteer options include:

  • Diagnosising plant problems in our diagnosis clinics
  • Educational outreach at events such as the home & garden show, county fairs, farmers markets
  • Teaching classes
  • Developing and maintaining the community education garden in Wenatchee
  • Maintaining demonstration gardens, such as the riverside xeriscape demonstration garden at Walla Walla Point Park
  • Teaching children about gardening
  • Writing gardening topics in the local newspaper column
  • Speaking on radio and television
  • Projects of special interest to you
  • Help fundraising to support the master gardener program

I have always been a lifelong learner, and the chance to work with so many like-minded people that have such an incredible amount of experience is so rewarding. The time spent working on the volunteer options provides a satisfying sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Applications are now available for the class that begins in January. Applications are due Sept. 30. There is limited space available so don’t delay.

If you are thinking this might be something you want to do, you can find the application online at wwrld.us/mgapp.

If you have questions, please contact regional Master Gardener coordinator Jennifer Cawdery for more information at (509) 667-6540. Check out the WSU Master Gardeners Chelan/Douglas counties website — wwrld.us/mastergardeners — for more details.

A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears weekly in The Wenatchee World. Lloyd Thompson is one of four columnists featured. Learn more, visit wwrld.us/cdmg or call (509) 667-6540.

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