Teaching the trade: Hamilton County Master Gardeners re-open training program

Master Gardener Kim Jenks maintains the AAS Flower Bed at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville with fellow master gardeners Priscilla Strong, left, and Marilyn Edwards, back. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

Master Gardener Kim Jenks maintains the AAS Flower Bed at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville with fellow master gardeners Priscilla Strong, left, and Marilyn Edwards, back. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

By Kayce Patton

 

Hamilton County Master Gardeners are looking for more to join their ranks, re-opening and re-instating its annual intern-training program this month.

The program offers area residents the opportunity to start from scratch in their knowledge of gardening to then volunteer after the program to complete various community-service projects and, eventually, become a master.

Beginning Aug. 23, classes will be held each Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. through Oct. 11.

The intern-training program is an annual event that was on a hiatus last year due to Noblesville’s Purdue Extension Educator Bill Rice retiring. It is returning this year under the direction of Diane Turner.

According to Turner, the Extension Educator of Ag and Natural Resources in Hamilton County, there are currently 302 active members in the Hamilton County Master Gardener Program, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, coordinated by Hamilton County Purdue Extension office in Noblesville.

The class is open to all residents, 18 and older, of Hamilton and surrounding counties. However, there is limited space. The program is accepting 40 people into the 2016 training class.

Turner said the program is designed to meet the gardening needs of the community.

“The purpose of the program is to teach people more about growing plants and to more effectively provide plant-related information,” Turner said. “In return, volunteers benefit greatly from gaining a network of avid gardeners, access to continuing education opportunities throughout the year, and the ability to give back to the community.”

Turner said the program provides selected gardeners with 35 hours of education in horticulture and home gardening. Participants who complete the program then donate another 35 hours of volunteer time to gardening services, which involves planting and maintaining garden projects all over the county, including several flowerbeds and a rose garden at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville.

After hours are completed, students of the class are certified as Master Gardener Volunteers, however, they must donate time yearly to maintain certification.

“Volunteer opportunities can consist of such services as answering garden questions, working with schools on their garden projects, working on community-approved (and) community-beautification projects, or assisting in other public education-related activities,” Turner said. “There are currently dozens of opportunities for completing your volunteer activity service – nearly all with an education focus.”

The Purdue Master Gardener volunteers are trained and certified to serve Purdue University by assisting Purdue Extension county offices with home horticulture and gardening education.

Hamilton County Master Gardener Association Treasurer Debbie Hager said the overall goal of the program is to promote and educate the community on good gardening practices.

“The Purdue Master Gardener Program is a volunteer training program designed to meet the gardening information needs of the community,” Hager said. “The purpose of the program is to teach people more about growing plants and to more effectively provide plant-related information. In return, volunteers benefit greatly from gaining a network of avid gardeners, access to continuing education opportunities throughout the year, and the ability to give back to the community.”

Once interns complete the program, they are invited to join the Hamilton County Master Gardeners Association and are encouraged to partake in various educational practices – among more than 70 options – through display gardens, meetings, workshops and bonding with fellow members.

Master Gardener Debbie Hager, right, pulls weeds in Parsons Patch – named after former Purdue Extension Education Raleigh Parsons – at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville with Master Gardener Patricia Henderson. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

Master Gardener Debbie Hager, right, pulls weeds in Parsons Patch – named after former Purdue Extension Education Raleigh Parsons – at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville with Master Gardener Patricia Henderson. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

TAKE THE COURSE

What: Hamilton County Master Gardener’s Intern Program.

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Aug. 23 to Oct. 11.

Where: Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2003 Pleasant St., Noblesville.

Cost: $165. Covers reference notebooks, mailings and name badges that later become part of the participants’ personal collection.

Apply: Visit hcmga.org/how-to-become-a-master-gardener to download an application or visit the Extension Office at the fairgrounds to pick one up.

Contact: Diane Turner, 317-776-0854.

MASTER GARDENER CERTIFICATION LEVELS

Certification level

Total volunteer hours

Total training hours

Master gardener

35

26

Advanced master gardener

60

45

Advanced – Bronze

200

60

Advanced – Silver

500

75

Advances – Gold

1,000

100

Additional gold levels

Additional 1,000

Additional 100

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.