Wenzel hopes idea takes root

Wenzel hopes idea takes root
Debra Wenzel, youth development and 4-H county Extension educator for the Cooperative Extension Service in Clay County, hopes to plant an idea with as many people as possible in the coming weeks.

It's time to get your hands dirty. It's time to become a Master Gardener.

Master Gardener training will be held from April 10 to June 19 at Dakota Dunes.

Wenzel urges people interested in becoming a Master Gardener to call the Clay County Extension office at 677-7111 immediately.

"We need people to submit their registration forms to us immediately, because the deadline has been moved up," Wenzel said. "We need to submit our numbers now so we do not cancel this program. Otherwise the Master Gardener program will not be brought back to the southeast corner of the state for another three years."

Wenzel hopes to attract more than just people from the southern portion of Clay County to the 60 hours of instruction.

"We hope to reach people all the way up to Wakonda and Viborg, because I don't see why they would mind driving down to Dakota Dunes," she said.

A Master Gardener, Wenzel said, can provide a valuable service to virtually every community in the county.

"You pay some money up front, you attend these sessions starting on April 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but you learn a lot, you leave with a lot of information, but you also have a lot of local support, and that's what is so very important," she said.

That support, Wenzel said, comes from the state Web site, horticulture educators, agronomy educators,

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current volunteers and local Extension offices.

"The other thing that's very neat about being a Master Gardener volunteer is you can go into your own area of expertise," Wenzel said.

She knows of some volunteers who enjoy working primarily with roses.

"Some like to work with just trees. Some like to work with orchids and some like to work with just tomato plants," Wenzel said.

She hopes to spread the word about all of the benefits included in the Master Gardener program, and, in turn, hopes that people in communities throughout the county will volunteer to participate.

Topics of Master Gardener training include lawn care, selection and care of ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease and weed control; soils and plant nutrition; vegetable, fruit and flower gardening; plant propagation; and houseplants.

Anyone is eligible to become a Master Gardener. The main requirement is an interest in gardening and horticulture and the desire to help others learn more about gardening.

The only other requirement is the ability to attend all 10 training sessions scheduled at the Dakota Dunes.

"We would like to rejuvenate our local volunteers," Wenzel said.

Master Gardeners are a valuable resource to their communities. In exchange for the training and to become certified, a participant donates a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service to the local Extension program over the next two years.

Some volunteers answer telephone requests for information related to gardening. Others host plant clinics or build displays, speak to local groups, assist with related youth projects, or work on demonstration gardens.

"This program takes that gardener to the next level," Wenzel said, "where they start understanding more concepts behind what makes their fruits and vegetables the best that they can be: what is the best timing, what is the best soil, what is the best temperature, what is the best rotation, insect repellent and watering."

Master Gardeners, she said, become experts at sharing tidbits of information with others that pay big dividends to one's vegetables, flowers, tree and shrubs.

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