Greener Thumb
Posts: 919
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

Re: What should master gardeners know

I have refrained from joining this conversation until now. For the record, I have completed the Master Gardener course here in Nebraska. Here we did have to pay a tuition to help pay for the informational books and materials. It is truly a beginner's course of study with a broad overview. It would be very difficult to learn and retain the vast amount of information in what for us was an 18 week, four hours per session once per week course.

Our instructors were PhD Extension and University of Nebraska instructors. Each had their own expertise. At the time I had been gardening for forty years and it is amazing how much new, up to date material there was. And how much more in depth each section needed to go into for the kind of Master Gardener imafan26 would like to see. Perhaps it is the name (Master Gardener) that is in error.

For ten years I have kept up with additional instruction and have done the volunteer hours to remain active. Of the class I was part of only maybe 4 of the thirty students have remained active. Maybe we took Intro to Master Gardening and there should be advanced groups with more advanced names. Not many would continue past the beginner stage. For me it is a hobby rather than a career. I garden, give informational talks and seminars and write a gardening column for the local newspaper. I also take calls from the public for advise. I DO NOT know a lot of the answers, but I can find the information to get people headed in the right direction. That to me is the reason for the Master Gardening course of study.

Those folks with years of book study, field research experience and practical gardening (horticultural) experience are my back-up. I figure myself as a conduit to and from these people for answers more complex than what I know. Most questions are pretty basic and I can be of service, but some are out of my range.

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Senior Member
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:50 pm
Location: West Kentucky

Xtron, I hear you perfectly! There are some aspects of the MG program in which I have little to no interest. Opposite to you, I am all about perennials and flowers, but lackluster on fruits and vegetables. This is where we complement each other, and that's what we do in our program. For every flower-child, there is a fruit tree pruner. Our diversity is what makes it work. Although we only have about 20 members, we all have our specialties and preferences, and can opt out of offerings that are not "up our alley".

PaulF, perfectly said! Your attitude and your program are what it's ALL about. The way you describe it is exactly the way it should be.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2105
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

I went through the Master Gardener program in 2000. At that time I had taken and passed the State exams for licensed Horticultural Specialist and Licensed Landscape Contractor. What did I learn from MG? How much I needed to learn.

KeeWee like you we have an exceptional organization. Our Horticulture Agents have all been dedicated to the program. As with any organization retention is an issues. There have been times when I have been less active than others. One way to ensure the initial volunteer hours are completed is to charge a high fee - $300 with $150 dollars refunded after the completion of the volunteer hours. This does not guarantee retention but it does discourage those who have no intention of really getting involved.

Most of the active members are mature adults or seniors - many are couples who enjoy gardening together. We all share a passion for gardening. Over the years many members have become dear friends. A shared passion does that.

Unfortunately the drop out rate is highest with younger members. I can understand. They are busy with jobs and family. They do not have the luxury of time.

Obviously the program has changed a lot over the years. Much less focus on chemicals. Focus on organic and biologic pest control. An emphasis on composting and growing Heirlooms. As a member I can audit the course - all or part at any time. On my bucket list for this year.

Long story short - I am very proud of our organization and feel privileged to be a member.

IDK what to say to those of you who have had a bad experience with your MG program. An offshoot is not out of the question. You can still do your required annual volunteer hours through the extension office in order to maintain your status. You have the knowledge and passion to establish your own community service endeavors.

Best wishes to you all.

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