BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
Attention all gardeners — this is your opportunity to learn new information and gardening techniques, and to share your enthusiasm by volunteering in the community,
The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program will run for 12 weeks beginning Jan. 28 at the U of I Extension Office, 3164 N. Vermilion St.
Instructors are U of I educators and horticulture specialists. A total of 60 hours of instruction and 60 hours of internship, to be completed during a two-year period, are required to complete the course.
Some of the topics covered include basic botany, lawn care, wildlife, vegetables, plant diseases, flowers, trees and shrubs, soils and compost, pruning, grasses, integrated pest management and fertilizers, and insects. Participants will be given a take-home test after completing the class.
Cost for the program is $175, and an on-line option is offered for $250. Partial scholarships are available.
When training is completed, master gardeners have a wide option of activities to choose from in order to complete their volunteer hours. Some of the projects include the Douglas Discovery Garden, Atwood House at Kennekuk Park, Vermilion Manor Nursing Home, the plant sale in May, the Garden Day Workshop in March and Tuesday night educational programs.
Leah Brennan, a master gardener who works at the U of I Extension Office in Danville, said, “Taking this class is a great way to meet other people who also enjoy gardening. You will find that gardeners are really friendly people.
“You shouldn’t be intimidated by the name ‘Master Gardener,’” Brennan said. “Our experience is that the people who sign up for the class are better gardeners than they realize.”
Mary Stonecipher, a master gardener for a number of years, said, “This class gives you a great way to enjoy gardening and also become more involved in the community.”
For more information, call the extension office at 442-8615 between 8 a.m. and noon or 1 and 4:30 p.m. weekdays, or visit http://extension.illinois.edu/cfiv.