It’s the time of year for me to recruit new volunteers for Extension Master Gardeners. If you enjoy yardwork and gardening, learning new things, meeting people who also enjoy plants, and being involved in your community, consider becoming a Master Gardener.

Master Gardeners are volunteers of each state's land grant university. In Nebraska, it is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Volunteers help in spreading horticulture information and leading activities to improve their communities.

The program is open to beginning and expert gardeners. While volunteers tend to have plant or gardening experience, this is not a requirement and should not stop you from considering being a volunteer.

Across Nebraska, there are close to 500 volunteers. Platte County currently has 23 Master Gardeners. If you would like to visit with one of them about the program, give me a call at 402-563-4901.

Education and learning are key components of becoming a Master Gardener. Over one or two years, new volunteers attend 40 hours of locally provided education and volunteer an equal number of hours.

Once the first 40 hours of training and volunteer time is completed, returning volunteers are asked to complete 12 hours of continuing education and volunteer 12 to 20 hours annually to the program.

Master Gardener classes are held Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9 p.m. beginning Feb. 14 this year. They are also held Thursday mornings from 9 a.m.-noon, beginning Feb. 16. If these times do not work, there are other options for meeting education requirements.

Some topics for this year are landscape design, turfgrass basics, small fruit production, soil basics, insects and more. There will also be a landscape and garden pest boot camp and an opportunity to explore and share about plants for local landscapes.

Along with plant related education, Master Gardeners receive a handbook on plant care, books on turfgrass and wildlife management, and additional literature on a variety of yard and garden topics.

Additional benefits include meeting people who have similar interests, sharing plants, discussing gardening successes and failures, and learning from each other.

Local volunteer opportunities include answering horticulture questions in the Extension office and at Farmers Market, working with 4-H youth on garden and outdoor education activities, caring for demonstration gardens, conducting pruning workshops, and planning a horticulture bus tour.

There has been a Master Gardener program in Platte County for 32 years. I am the coordinator of the program. If interested in learning more about becoming an Extension Master Gardener, call me at 402-563-4901 or email kfeehan2@unl.edu.

If you enjoy learning about plants, but do not feel you have time to be a Master Gardener, the classes are open to the general public to attend for a fee. You choose which topics you are interested in and attend only those sessions. No volunteer time is required.

If interested in learning more, call or email me. I will send you information about the program and/or a flyer to register for classes offered in Columbus by Nebraska Extension.

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