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Become A UCCE Master Gardener

MADERA COUNTY – Madera County Master Gardeners are recruiting new members for the class of 2015. Online applications are now being accepted through the end of August.

Those who apply will be personally invited to attend an informational meeting on Sept. 18 at the Madera State Center Community College campus, where they will meet local Master Gardeners and sign up for a personal interview.

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener Program, Madera County, is a volunteer program designed to meet the educational needs of home and community gardeners. The program is administered locally by UCCE Madera County, the principal outreach and public service arm of the University’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Master Gardeners are volunteer agents of the University of California, whose mission is to extend UC research-based information to home gardeners. There are Master Gardener programs in over 50 California counties.

Each county tailors its program to meet local needs by providing approximately 64 hours of classroom instruction in horticulture, plant disease and pest management, weed science, plant propagation, vegetables, soils, fertilizers, irrigation, fruit and landscape trees, turf, and diagnosing plant problems. Classroom instruction lasts 16 weeks, with an additional requirement of hands-on training in the field. In exchange for the training and materials, Master Gardeners perform volunteer services.

After completing the training and passing a final exam, trainees become Certified Master Gardeners and complete 50 hours of volunteer service during the remainder of the training period. Thereafter, the certification requirement is 12 hours of continuing education and 25 hours of volunteer service per year. The title Master Gardener is used only in connection with the UCCE program and never for commercial purposes.

People from all walks of life are attracted to the Master Gardener training program. Adults of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds, with varying degrees of prior experience in home horticulture become Master Gardeners.

What do Master Gardeners do? Teach classes. Answer gardening questions. Provide information about planting and maintaining home gardens. Learn from each other. Research gardening information from UC and other approved sources. Plant and maintain the Three Sisters Demonstration Garden located on the State Center Community College Madera campus. While not a perquisite, some gardening experience is helpful, along with an interest in serving the public and a desire to volunteer in Master Gardener activities. Applicants should show effective communication skills, the ability to work with the public, and an interest in gardening.

More information and an application can be found at http://ucanr.edu/2015mginfoandapp. Or call 559 675-7879, ext. 7210, or email mgmadera@ucdavis.edu.

The Master Gardener training classes will be held weekly on Thursdays in Fresno at the UC Center, 550 E. Shaw Ave., 8:30 to 12:30 p.m. Classes begin Jan. 8 and continue through Apr. 23, 2015. The deadline for submitting an application is Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. Late applications will not be accepted. Applications must be submitted online.

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