- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Calling all Gardeners! Class is open!!
Have you been thinking about taking the Master Gardener training class but aren't sure if it's for you? Maybe this blog
Who would make a good Master Gardener?
-You!!! Seriously….this program succeeds because of diversity…….of mindsets, geographical location, educational background, culture, ethnicity, gardening experience, and perspectives. If you are reading this blog, you likely already have an interest in plants and could be a great Master Gardener!!
-People who want to help empower their neighbors, their community, and the residents of San Bernardino County by teaching them how to grow edible and landscape plants successfully. Our volunteers work throughout the county to teach people about three main topics: Growing Food, Sustainable Landscaping and Healthy Lifestyles and Better Living Through Gardening. Within those topics we can teach a lot of things, but the core of our program is sharing research-based information with the public so they can learn how to grow some of their own food and create their own gardens, green spaces, pollinator gardens and more, all while saving resources and protecting the environment and building community.
-People who love love love gardening! If you are passionate about gardening, you are halfway there!! Many of our Master Gardeners are shy at first about working information tables or giving presentations but they all say that when they focus on their love of gardening instead of thinking about “knowing everything” they find sharing with the public fun and rewarding (hint- we don't know everything, but we have a whole team of fellow Master Gardeners to help us, and in the class we learn how to find credible information to share on all kinds of topics!). There are also behind the scenes volunteer opportunities for those who are really not comfortable with being in front of people. We work to accommodate all comfort levels when it comes to sharing the knowledge you learn with the public.
-Community leaders who are looking to improve outcomes in their area. The Master Gardener program works with many community leaders to help be part of a positive vision/outcome for their neighborhood and what better way to know how Master Gardeners can help than to learn about the program firsthand. While there is a volunteer requirement as part of being a Master Gardener, there are a lot of way to get your hours in and we work with each individual to see what would work best for them.
- A wide variety of gardening topics like: sustainable landscaping, mulching, soil preparation and composting; growing food; plant pathology; plant propagation; integrated pest management; fruit tree care; how to properly water plants and what an ET rate is; all about irrigation equipment and use; what ACP, GSOB, ISHB are (and you will learn what those things stand for too!); all about beneficial insects, what they are and how to create habitats that can support them year round……just to name a few things this course will cover.
-How and where to volunteer within our program so you can start sharing your knowledge with the public and how to start projects in your community with the support of our Master Gardener committee chairs.
-We can spend a life time learning about plants and there will always be new things to learn and breakthroughs….so one of the things we really focus on is: how to research, where to go, how to determine if resources are credible, and what kind of questions to ask when you are looking things up
Besides learning all about plants, what will you do as a Master Gardener and what do we expect of you?
-Examples of our outreach are: Giving or supporting online presentations (and in person when it is safe to do so); work our helpline (by receiving training and answering questions by email and phone); work with school and community gardens; work on citizen science projects; volunteer to support our seed library; when it is safe to go back to in person activities we work at info tables and events sharing info with the public on our three areas of focus (growing food, sustainable landscaping and healthy/better living through gardening) and do demonstrations for the public on gardening techniques, irrigation set up and planting and more.
We just ask that you join our class with an open mind and heart and that you be prepared to take what you learn and share that information back with your community and the public (through the projects that we have going on, or projects that you work with us to develop). Our goal is to get all (and I mean all) of San Bernardino County residents gardening, whether that be in a community garden, a window sill garden, their back yard, or in pots on their patio…..and that goal takes a lot of passionate people!! All of the information we share with the public is research-based peer reviewed information and that's what you will learn about in the 18 week training class. In addition to the classes you take we will link you with experts and hundreds of research based publications so you will be well prepared to answer questions and direct people to resources (remember that we don't know everything, we just know who to ask and where to look to find credible, research based information).
Volunteering looks different for everyone and we understand that all of our UCCE Master Gardeners are sharing their time and passions with us in addition to living full lives themselves. So, you may volunteer on a regular basis with projects near home, or work a little bit each month, or you may be part of the dozens of Master Gardeners who help us with our spring outreach. Some volunteers spend many hours each month and get hundreds of hours each year and some volunteers are only able to get the 50 hours they need in the first 18 months (and the 25 hours needed each year after that). Both types of volunteers are so appreciated, and needed to keep our program running.
So, if you think that you might have time to give back to your community and want to improve the lives of people in SanBernardino County please consider applying to the Master Gardener. Becoming a Master Gardener is a lifelong journey that starts with taking the course as the foundation (or roots of a tree?) that will grow as you learn and start to work with and develop projects that you are passionate about. Please note that you are required to attend ar live information sessions offered via Zoom before your application will be accepted. August information sessions are on August 8 (2:30-3:30pm) and August 19 (9-10am). They will provide you an opportunity to ask your questions and find out more about the Master Gardener program. Register for a session on our website: http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/. We look forward to having you join our team as a fellow Master Gardener, or as a participant in our free upcoming classes for the gardening public listed in this newsletter!