Master Gardeners graduate new ‘crop’

Published 8:58 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beaufort County has 13 new horticulture experts at its disposal.

The horticulturists gained their expertise by graduating from the Beaufort County Master Gardener program Tuesday morning.

Janice Simons, one of 13 new members of the Beaufort County Master Gardeners, pins her badge onto her blouse following Tuesday’s graduation ceremony. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

Participants in the program have been taking weekly horticulture training courses since February. They had to pass an exam to become certified as Master Gardeners. The courses are usually offered once a year.

The Beaufort County Master Gardener Volunteers work with the Cooperative Extension Service to share research-based gardening and consumer horticulture with the public, according to its website.

The group of 45 volunteers has a free hotline they use to field questions about everything from weeding to growing the perfect tomato. The Master Gardeners also have a booth at Saturday Market, the farmers market on the Washington waterfront.

In addition to completing the training course, graduates had to do research projects and present their findings to the group.

Each graduate also committed to 40 hours of volunteer work in the coming year. After the initial year, the new graduates will have to complete 20 volunteer hours a year in order to maintain their status as Master Gardeners.

Before the presentation of graduation certificates and badges, Master Gardener Carol Barbato read a list of ways to find out if you are a Master Gardener.

“You know you’re a Master Gardener when at least once a day you get naked and do gymnastics in front of a mirror looking for ticks,” Barbato said.

The list included spending more time volunteering than at home, buying bigger trucks in order to haul more mulch, carrying a shovel and plastic bag in a car’s trunk as emergency tools and appreciating their Master Gardner badges more than their jewelry.

Tuesday’s graduating class nodded in recognition with the rest of the Master Gardeners present. They later accepted certificates and pinned on their new badges.

Jane Boston was noticeably exuberant as she glided to the front of the room for her certificate and badge.

“I moved down from the New England area and knew absolutely nothing about the soil here,” Boston said.

She looked forward to sharing everything she now knew with the public while answering hotline calls. The hotline number is 946-0111 and is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon.

Barbato told the graduates she was already impressed with the knowledge they exhibited during their volunteer hours, adding that she looks forward to volunteering with them.

“We really are anxious for you to take over the committees,” she laughed.