If your New Year’s resolution list includes volunteering and learning more about gardening and the environment, I encourage you to consider applying for admittance into the 2012 Washington County Master Gardener training program.
The program consists of a series of classes on botany, wildlife and other horticulture-related topics taught by current and former University of Maryland faculty and volunteers, as well as professionals in their specific fields.
The primary objective of the Master Gardener program is to educate people within the community about good horticultural practices. This mission is accomplished through volunteer service.
First-year participants are required to contribute 40 hours of service to various approved projects and events within the county. Upon completion of the program and passing the final exam, participants become certified Master Gardeners and volunteers for University of Maryland Extension — Washington County.
In the following years, certified Master Gardeners must volunteer 20 hours and attend 10 hours of continuing education to maintain an active status.
Since the inception of this program in Washington County in 1995, it has grown to include 86 Master Gardeners. Last year, they donated more than 6,000 hours of volunteer service to the county. Perhaps you had the chance to meet one of the local Master Gardeners at the biweekly plant clinic held in Hagerstown at the City Farmers Market or at the Charlie Brown Christmas in Williamsport. Maybe you met a Master Gardener when you attended one of the classes offered at the University of Maryland Extension office or when you visited the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum.
Volunteer opportunities exist all over the county at a variety of locations such as schools, museums, hospitals and libraries.
The first step in becoming a Master Gardener is to identify your desire to make a difference in the community and your level of commitment.
The second step is to request an application. Applications are available at http://washington.umd.edu.
Karen Sechler is a horticulture educator with the University of Maryland Extension in Washington County. She can be reached by calling 301-791-1604 or by sending an email to email@example.com.