Oh, how time flies when you are having fun! On July 22, Gulf County Extension held a certification and graduation event for this years’ Gulf County Master Gardener course. The program began on April 1 with weekly lectures and periodic field trips. This was the second class since 2017, and now the program boasts of 13 Master Gardener Volunteers in Gulf County.
This year’s class received training in the form of course work and field trips in the areas of:
• Plant Nutrition & Propagation
• Weed Identification & Management
• Integrated Pest Management
• Vegetable Gardening & Composting
• Soils and Fertilizers
• Citrus and 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 2020 course is being planned. Tentatively, the program will begin in January and will be offered in conjunction with Franklin and Wakulla County Extension, with classes being held in Eastpoint. The advertisement for applications will be posted later this fall. 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.