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Master Gardener training starts in January

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Do you have a love for spending hours planting and tending to your backyard garden? Do you have a knack for teaching and enjoy sharing your knowledge with others? If gardening is your passion, and you would like to be part of a team that contributes to keeping Illinois communities educated and beautiful, consider becoming a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener.

There are nearly 3,400 Master Gardener volunteers in Illinois. Each year, they reach thousands of people and are a valuable source to many schools, communities, youth programs and farmers markets. They teach classes and workshops, answer telephone inquiries about home horticulture, guide planting and educational demonstrations in community and school gardens, represent the program at the county and state fair, and work with many community organizations to convey up-to-date, research-based gardening information.

To become a Master Gardener, you must apply and be accepted into your local county Extension program. Upon acceptance, volunteers take the Master Gardener Core Training. After completing the core course, Master Gardener interns are required to volunteer a minimum of 60 hours over two years in their community. Certified Master Gardeners are those who have completed their classroom training and internship. To remain an active Master Gardener, you must complete 10 hours of continuing education and 30 hours of volunteer service each year.

Applications will be reviewed and interviews will be set up with Extension staff. Applicants must complete an application, interview, and screening by Dec. 13 to be eligible for 2014 training.

Master Gardener training for 2014 will be offered from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 15 through April 2, at the Boone County University of Illinois Extension office in Belvidere. In-person training costs $175 and includes the Master Gardener manual. An online option ($250) also is available.

For information, contact program coordinator Bethany Macarus at the University of Illinois Extension at 815-758-8194, visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/mg/ or stop by the Extension office in the DeKalb County Farm Bureau building at 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore.

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