Becoming a Master Gardener
By LMG Calla Victoria
If you are an avid gardener and love playing in the dirt, you might be ready to take the next step in your gardening journey. Perhaps you are ready to become a Master Gardener like myself. Almost every state has a Master Gardening program through the state’s extension service.
In Louisiana, the Louisiana Master Gardening program is sponsored by the LSU Ag Center and directed by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. The program is designed to recruit and train volunteers with horticultural expertise to aid home gardeners with their gardening needs. The Master Gardeners are a volunteer army, equipped with shovel and trowel, ready and willing to tackle the area's gardening needs. You will find that Master Gardeners heading up many of the community and victory garden programs around the city like LMG (Louisiana Master Gardener) Lydia Pollard with the Arc Project uptown, LMG Melissa Luer with The Victory Garden Project at the National World War II Museum, LMG Amber Dawn with the Kids Farm at the Hollygrove Market, and LMG Eileen Hollander with the Louisiana Super Plants Display Garden as well as the Iris Walk at the Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden in City Park.
The Louisiana Master Gardener program provides invaluable training and educational opportunities. The program is open to all people regardless of socio-economic level, race, color, sex, religion or national origin. The Master Gardening program is an all-volunteer program sanctioned by land-grant institutions in each state and function as an extension of the college or university. So if you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener know that you will be obligated to 40 hours of volunteer service during your first year, and 20 hours a year of volunteer service as well as 6 hours of continuing education thereafter for your yearly re-certification.
There are many perks associated with becoming a Master Gardener aside from the advanced training and knowledge of horticulture. There is also the satisfaction of helping others, working with a great group of people, visiting some amazing gardens as Master Gardeners are called on to lead Secret Garden tours and invited on garden tour field trips; discounts at most garden centers, and lots of free cuttings, seeds, and plants.
The upcoming Louisiana Master Gardener Training Class is set for July 31, 2014 through September 25, 2014 on Tuesday & Thursday mornings from 9am - noon in the New Orleans Botanical Garden (NOBG) Garden Study Center. Additionally, there will be two field trips to the Burden and Hammond Research Stations.
Applications must be received by June 1, 2014. If you need an application, please go to the “Gardening Questions” page of this website, fill out the question form and I will email you a copy of the application.