Master gardeners train for months to help public

" Master gardener" has such a reliable ring. It seems like a status that can be accomplished just after Mr. Miyagi of "The Karate Kid" teaches you to "wax on, wax off" for a couple of years.

The truth is, ending up being a master garden enthusiast has more to do with being a servant than being a master.

The regional branch of the volunteer program of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension started in 1975. There are now 135 master gardeners in El Paso County, all experts in fielding plant concerns from the community and offering their time in gardens throughout the county.

But as people stop, move or pass away, coordinators want to renew the ranks with new volunteers each year.

" We're not looking for individuals who know everything about gardening," said master garden enthusiast Scott Wilson. An introductory class on Wednesday is the necessary first action to becoming a master garden enthusiast.

The application is no guarantee: In 2005, 45 individuals used to become master gardeners; 29 were accepted into the program.

It's an intensive process, with apprentices needed to go through a plant bootcamp. They finish a 15-week course (eight hours each Thursday) on soils, insects, plant and tree identification, weeds, turf grass and meteorology.

That, the trainees are anticipated to be able "to supply the public with information about fostering an effective home garden in the Colorado area," according to the Extension's objectives.

However horticultural education is only the start. Apprentice master gardeners need to serve 50 volunteer hours throughout the next six months, 40 of which should be spent at the Extension's aid desk.

They can forgo the volunteer requirement, however will need to pay the complete $495 course cost, rather than the $195 for those who offer.

And volunteering is the genuine education. When nervous property owners come in bearing a dead branch from their treasured aspen or a piece of brown grass from their brand-new sod, the master garden enthusiast is their last wish for redemption.

" Anything you can potentially envision, we have somebody who has asked that concern," said Wilson, who has actually been a master garden enthusiast for three years. "When someone generates a sample of a dead tree branch and you can help them figure out what's wrong and assist them fix it, it feels excellent."

After six months of service, these trainees lastly become full-fledged master garden enthusiasts.

However the work isn't over.

To remain a master garden enthusiast, one need to finish 12 hours at the help desk, 12 hours of social work in the plant world, and 12 hours of education each year.

Most of these go-getters do even more than that.

Bob Short, the only master garden enthusiast staying from the inaugural class of 1975, said demand for their services has grown as more residents learn they can choose up the phone and get aid.

He signed up with the program after his retirement as a meteorologist from the Air Force. He's seen more than 1,000 master gardeners reoccur, however he sticks with it.

" I personally have gotten a lot of complete satisfaction from (being a master garden enthusiast)," said Short, who volunteers weekly at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. "When I'm doing my own work, it's nice to know exactly what I'm doing. And it's good to share it with people.

" There's so damn much info out there, and so much of it is undependable. CSU and the master gardeners are attempting to put out good details, not offer anything. The motivation is pure."

As Short's time at the xeriscape garden shows, the service choices for master garden enthusiasts go well beyond the assistance desk. Master garden enthusiasts were important this previous year in planting gardens at The Classical Academy and the Carnegie Library downtown. They write articles for the newspaper and take pictures. They're producing a Junior Master Gardener program.

They likewise teach classes. Gardening in the Pikes Peak Region, a series of eight classes, is in complete swing right now, taught mainly by master garden enthusiasts, and more than 500 people are expected to go to.

The master garden enthusiast program is concentrated on property owners and the yard garden. reference It can be difficult to garden effectively in this region, and it's good to have somewhere to turn when things aren't going well. Thanks to master garden enthusiasts, everybody in El Paso County has that resource at their fingertips.

Why do these people do it?

" I delight in being helpful," Wilson stated. "What makes it beneficial is when you get a call back and they state 'Thanks. It worked.'".

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