As you may or may not know, I’m charged with running the Colorado Master Gardener program in La Plata County.
There’s the chance the majority of you who peruse the article are either: a) master gardeners who think you get continuing education hours for reading this; or b) not master gardeners because you don’t want to read the same story or joke – “Humus is stabilized organic matter, not something you put in a pita” – that I’ve likely told multiple times in class.
But there is always a chance that some reader out there wants to take the master gardener classes and be an active volunteer. If that person is you, then now is my chance.
Take the course! It’s worth it! If you are new to gardening or new to the area, this is the most comprehensive educational program offered. And if you have a few years of digging in the dirt under your belt (or fingernails), I guarantee you will walk away each week learning something new and valuable.
The classes are taught by local and statewide experts, and they include a combination of classroom and laboratory learning techniques. We try to tailor the topics to our local environment, so hopefully, we don’t go off on tangents about plants, insects, diseases or issues that don’t pertain to or affect us.
We have fun. Seriously. And while many of you haven’t been in a classroom for decades, learning can be enjoyable. I promise your hands will get dirty, that you will laugh and that you will want to tell at least one person what you learned in class that day. You’re like a middle-aged kindergartner. You’re surrounded by people who have similar interests, and if you are like me, people who really like to bring homemade snacks and treats. Just no naps.
I get it, it’s 12 consecutive Thursdays, and if you have a typical weekday job, then it may be a challenge. I truly wish we could help, but just like you not being able to take a class during the day, the instructors, including myself, are not really able to teach 12 nights either.
And the commitment can be daunting: $170 for the course, $110 for the 650-page book, The Science of Gardening, and 50 hours of volunteer time. But in comparison, tuition for a four-credit college course for in-state residents at Colorado State University is $1,729, plus books and fees. (The master gardener class is comparable in terms of material and hours taught to a 100- or 200-level college course.) Many of the instructors who teach on campus also teach a master gardener class.
And, as long as you complete the 50 hours of volunteer service, you get: a certificate (with my signature!), a badge (with your name and a magnet on it!) and an invitation to the annual banquet (yes, that’s right, more shared food!) held in December.
If you continue to volunteer, you will also get my sincerest appreciation. I have about 40 active volunteers, and if it wasn’t for their support, their knowledge and their energy, we could not do what we do in the community.
[email protected] or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.