The Mississippi State University Extension Service's Master Gardener program provides horticultural training for volunteers. Some county Master Gardeners hold educational seminars for the public and host events, like the 2018 Lowndes County plant sale pictured. Photo by: Courtesy photo
January 19, 2019 9:59:46 PM
Even in the grip of frigid temperatures, Mississippians know spring will eventually begin to tease and tempt. For those eager to get their hands dirty in a garden, the calendar can't move fast enough. To cultivate those green thumbs, the Mississippi State University Extension Service is gearing up to offer Master Gardener training twice weekly Feb. 19 through March 26.
"You don't have to be a garden pro, just willing to learn and have fun; we teach you the rest," said Lowndes County Extension Agent III Reid Nevins.
The volunteer program provides horticultural training at low cost and a chance to meet other avid gardeners, share gardening experiences and get connected to the community. In exchange for training, Master Gardeners are asked to volunteer their time to help the Extension Service with horticulture projects that benefit the local community.
Nevins said the Lowndes County Extension office at 485 Tom Rose Road will offer classes Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. starting Tuesday, Feb. 19. Other county Extension offices will also offer training.
In 40 hours of interactive video classwork, participants will learn from experts on soils, botany, invasive plants, entomology, ornamentals, honeybee care, plant propagation, weeds and much more. In exchange, volunteers will provide 40 hours of volunteer service on community projects within a year after training.
Nevins noted, "You may have noticed some of the landscape projects around Columbus that have had the hands of Lowndes County Master Gardener volunteers on them -- like the landscaping at the downtown post office, the beautiful Butterfly Garden at the Riverwalk, or colorful pots and landscaping at Lee Park or the entrance at Baptist Memorial Hospital."
The Master Gardener program also offers horticultural programs and a yearly plant sale to the community.
To maintain certification, volunteers attend 12 hours of advanced training and give 20 hours of service to the county Extension program annually.
Deadline to sign up is Feb. 10. Cost is $100 and helps cover the training program, materials, CD and meeting refreshments. If circumstances prevent a participant from attending after registration, $50 of the fee is refundable if requested the first week of class.
To sign up, contact your county's Extension office: in Lowndes County, 662-328-2111; Oktibbeha County, 662-323-5916; Clay County, 662-494-5371.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.