Oh, how time flies when you are having fun! On Tuesday, Gulf County Extension held a certification and graduation event for this years’ Gulf County Master Gardener Class at the Port St. Joe Satellite Office.

Oh, how time flies when you are having fun! On Tuesday, Gulf County Extension held a certification and graduation event for this years’ Gulf County Master Gardener Class at the Port St. Joe Satellite Office. The program began on Feb. 7 with weekly lectures and field trips. This was our inaugural class since the re-installment of the program in Gulf County.

This year’s class received training in the form of course work and field trips in the areas of:

• Botany

• Plant Nutrition & Propagation

• Weed Identification & Management

• Integrated Pest Management

• Palms

• Vegetable Gardening & Composting

• Soils & Fertilizers

• Citrus & other Dooryard Fruit

• Tree Care

• Native Plants

• Invasive Species & Wildlife Management

• And more…….

So, what is a Master Gardener? Master Gardeners are volunteer educators of the horticultural arts and sciences. With training from UF/IFAS Extension, Master Gardeners are active in their communities, offering leadership and guidance in gardening projects of all types and sizes. The Florida Master Gardener Program has been around since 1979, and each year, approximately 4,700 Master Gardeners contribute a total of 420,000 hours of service, helping to make their communities better informed, more sustainable, and more beautiful.

The Master Gardener curriculum is taught weekly with a 50-hour training commitment for the program. This training includes both classroom lecture and field trips. After graduation, the Master Gardener will need to complete 75 hours of volunteer hours in the first year, 35 hours each year afterwards, along with 10 hours of continuing education to keep certification. Master Gardeners can fulfill their volunteer hours in a variety of ways for Extension, including: answering horticultural questions, participating in community and school garden projects, giving educational programs to the public, supporting youth activities, and more.

The desire to help others is the first and absolute requirement. A personal commitment to complete the training and to serve the required volunteer service hours is equally important. Enrollment is limited and selection can be highly competitive.

When will the next class begin? The 2018 course is in the planning stage. Tentatively, the program will begin in January and will be offered in Wewahitchka. The advertisement for applications will be posted early this fall. Fee for 2018 class has yet to be finalized. For more information or to be placed on the contact list, please call Gulf County Extension at 639-3200.

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.