As August continues to fly by, I will be preparing to send out applications to any and all interested persons in our area who want to become master gardeners in 2011.
This is an exciting time for me because we will be adding another fine group of gardeners to our growing group of around 150 enthusiastic gardeners who add immeasurable value to our community through their projects.
Hall County Master Gardeners share their talents, knowledge and creativity through support and education. Their mission, as stated on the Hall County Master Gardener website is to "educate the public on gardening techniques and knowledge."
The Hall County Master Gardeners are a proud group of individuals who contribute valuable volunteer hours each year through various events and activities. Hall County was the No. 1 master gardening group in the state totaling almost 18,000 volunteer hours in 2009. Their support of the county extension office through phone support on garden related topics and maintenance is a vital resource to our office.
They also are involved in the sponsoring of the popular spring and Fall Expos. The Spring Expo as been called "the greatest two-day plant sale in Georgia."
These events draw a huge gathering of plant lovers from around the area with more than 50 nursery and garden vendors participating in each one.
The Fall Expo this year will be held Sept. 24-25 at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.
Master gardeners are involved in many garden projects around the county. Many libraries, schools, nonprofit organizations, assisted living homes and parks have been graced by the many creative and resourceful gardeners who love to come together to plant and make our county a more beautiful place to live in. The sense of pride and accomplishment is never-ending with this group of diverse men and women.
Another exciting project that continues to grow in Hall County is the Junior Master Gardener program. There are about 10 elementary schools that have the program with more than 250 children participating.
Master gardeners involved in this program teach children a love for gardening through learning about community service, soil, water, garden design, wildlife and good nutrition. This program is in its 4th year with new school programs being added every year.
Master Gardeners contribute to the community through their common passion for gardening. Master Gardeners receive more than 40 hours of classroom and instructional courses taught by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Agents and other specialist in related horticultural fields. The 24 classes range from topics including basic botany and native plants to water-wise gardening and pest and disease management. These classes help equip the student to be able to assist with gardening questions when the need arises within the community.
When the classes are completed, the master gardener intern is required to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours the first year and 25 hours each year afterward to remain active in their master gardener certification.
If you are interested in becoming a master gardener, please contact me at the extension office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-535-8293). I will be happy to provide additional information about the program.
Applications will be mailed through mid-September and classes will start in early January through March 2011. The classes are taught from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. You also can go the Hall County Master Gardener website for more information.
Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.