Master gardeners sought

The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program in Anoka County is accepting applications for the 2012 core course educational program.

Master gardeners are a group of volunteers who receive professional training in home horticulture by university specialists in exchange for their volunteer time.

The program was created in 1977 and is administered by University of Minnesota Extension and it is a partnership designed to provide services to residents of Anoka County.

To become a master gardener, applicants need to have an active interest in gardening and learning and the willingness to communicate to others what they have learned through various activities, according to Lynne Hagen, master gardener program coordinator, University of Minnesota Extension, Anoka County.

Applicants who are accepted in the program must attend the master gardener core course, which includes 48 hours of classroom instruction, and complete an internship of 50 volunteer hours of volunteer service the first year in the program.

The classroom instruction covers a variety of topics including lawn care, trees and shrubs, entomology, fruits, flowers, vegetable gardening and plant pathology.

Applicants will become certified master gardeners on completion of the core course and internship at the end of their first year in the program.

To continue as a master gardener, volunteers must perform a minimum of 25 hours of service each year and attend additional continuing education classes which are made available through many monthly programs.

There are many different types of activities that volunteers can choose from, according to Hagen.

Some of these include answering lawn and garden questions at ask a master gardener booths, at the plant and insect diagnostic clinic, or returning calls on the yard and garden line, Hagen said.

Volunteers also teach classes, facilitate youth projects and participate in research, she said.

Applications are available on the Anoka County Master Gardener website at http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mgweb/anoka/.

Applications can be mailed or dropped off at the master gardener office at the Bunker Hills Activities Center, 550 Bunker Lake Blvd., Andover, MN 55304. The deadline is Friday, Sept. 28 by 4:30 p.m. There is a $10 application fee.

Selected applicants will be asked to participate in a short written exam and participate in an interview with a panel of master gardener volunteers, Hagen said.

They will be notified in November and receive their core course registration instructions from the state master gardener office, she said.

The core course classes will take place at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum from Jan. 11 through Feb. 2, 2013 on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All participants have the option of attending all classes in person, or partially online, according to Hagen.

The fee is $275.

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