PLANTING THE SEEDS: Extension agency to host Master Gardener certification course
Published 4:34 pm Thursday, January 1, 2015
It may be the dead of winter, but the local extension agency is already planting its new crop of Master Gardener volunteers.
On Monday, the course that will turn the average gardener into a Master Gardener starts at the Beaufort County Cooperative Extension Office in Washington. The certification course costs less than $100 per person, and consists of two, three-hour sessions per week for seven consecutive weeks. A final exam and a 40-hour internship earns the title Master Gardener volunteer.
“It’s just a good way for people who love gardening to share that same pleasure with other gardeners,” said Chris Young, who became a certified Master Gardener volunteer five years ago.
Volunteers help their neighbors with all things gardening: manning a hot line, doing the research to provide answers to gardening questions; putting in time at the local extension office where people can bring in samples and discuss their gardening issues face to face; or helping out at the downtown Washington farmers market. The Master Gardeners volunteers’ presence is strong in Beaufort County, according to Young.
“We become involved locally with homeowners and give any kind of guidance to anyone in Beaufort County regarding their lawn, their trees, their shrubs, flowers,” Young said.
The Master Gardener volunteers program has existed in North Carolina since 1979 — a N.C. State University program intended to help homeowners make environmentally sound decisions in their gardens and provide gardeners with unbiased, research-based information on gardens, lawns and landscapes., according to the Extension Master Gardener website. Statewide in 2014, master gardener volunteers worked a total of 179,855 hours.
For example, the local hotline gives gardeners the opportunity to call and state their gardening issue. The Master Gardener volunteer who receives the message will do the research to resolve the issue, be it parasites or soil acidity.
In addition to helping one’s gardening neighbors, learning opportunities for Master Gardener volunteers continue long after certification, Young said.
“We meet once a month, we have speakers on different topics. … Some of the continuing education programs we also have, are field trips to tobacco farms, cotton farms, so the volunteer continues to build their knowledge in various ways,” Young said. “We can continue learning ourselves.”
Young said there are 11 signed up for the session that starts Monday, but there is room to accommodate 25. Those interested please contact the Cooperative Extension office at 252-946-0111 or email