Do you have a love of plants, aspire to know more about gardening and a desire to share that knowledge with others? Than you should consider becoming a Master Gardener with the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Master Gardeners learn about general botany, invasive plants and insects, soils, trees, streams, water quality, pruning and just about anything having to do with gardening. These volunteers then share their knowledge with others in the community.
Paige Thacker, the Prince William extension agent, said people who are interested in becoming Master Gardener volunteers would gain the knowledge and certification they need by attending college-level classes offered by the extension. The Master Gardener Training course, which runs from mid-September through December, does have a fee and requires a background check, Thacker said. "It's $235 this year, but we do have scholarships available."
While the course is demanding, it has its rewards. According to Thacker, Master Gardeners get the satisfaction of helping others by providing research-based information to assist with gardening issues. "They're educators in the community. They're sort of a go-to when people have landscape or plant problems. They're going to give you short-term and long-term recommendations if there's a problem."
People will need to attend an orientation before registering for the course, Thacker said. "It's a requirement to go to orientation so that you understand what's involved. It really is a long-term commitment." The orientation is free, but registration is required.
The following orientations are scheduled for interested gardeners:
Monday, Aug. 14, 6:30-8 p.m. – Room 202 A and B in the Development Services Building, 5 County Complex Court in Woodbridge
Wednesday, Aug. 16, 6:30-8 p.m. – The McCoy Conference Room at the Sudley North Government Building, 7987 Ashton Avenue in Manassas
Monday, Aug. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. – The Occoquan Conference Room at the McCoart Government Center, 1 County Complex Court in Woodbridge
Call 703-792-7747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Once people finish the classroom portion, as well as an internship by hosting education events or clinics, and working at the extension's help desk, they then become "full-fledged" Master Gardener volunteers, Thacker said.
For more information about the Master Gardener program or other Virginia Cooperative Extension programs in the county, visit www.pwcgov.org/vce.