The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service is offering Master Gardener training this spring in Yankton at the Yankton County Extension Office. The application deadline is April 14.
The Master Gardener Program is open to anyone who has an interest in gardening or horticulture. Most people participate in the program because they want to learn more about gardening and find it to be an enjoyable way to contribute to their community.
The South Dakota MG program offers over 60 hours of instruction that covers topics in lawn care, selection and care of ornamental trees and shrubs; insect, disease, and weed control; safe use of pesticides; soils and plant nutrition; vegetable, fruit and flower gardening; plant propagation and herbaceous plants.
The training includes classroom instruction as well as outdoor learning experiences. Trainees are encouraged to bring in plant, insect and disease samples to share with the class. Participants are also encouraged to relate their own gardening experiences with the group so that everyone can learn from each other's personal experiences. Since many of the people involved in the Master Gardener training program are already avid gardeners, everyone becomes a resource for the other gardeners.
Participants will also receive the South Dakota Master Gardener resource manual.
In exchange for the nine-week training, participants are required to return 50 hours of volunteer time to their county extension program. Then to retain status of a Master Gardener, 10 hours of volunteer time are required annually. Volunteer service can vary, depending on one's skills and the needs of the local community. Some volunteers answer telephone requests for information, host plant clinics, or speak to groups. Others assist with demonstration gardens, farmers markets, youth gardens, 4-H activities or write articles for local newspapers. Still others help with research projects such as the South Dakota tree inventory, or serve as a volunteer coordinator.
The costs are $160 for an individual and $250 for two individuals sharing a manual. Each participant is expected to then contribute 50 hours of volunteer service in their community over the next two years to complete their training and become a full-fledged Master Gardener. Or, if an individual desires, they may sign up at a cost of $500 which provides the same training and materials, but removes the 50 hour payback requirement.
Training times and dates in Yankton as are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on May 26, June 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, and July 7, 14 and 21.
Additional training sites include Mitchell, Pierre, Spearfish and Watertown.
If you are interested in participating in the Master Gardener Training Program, contact the Yankton County Extension Office at 605-665-3387.
For application information, visit the State Master Gardener website at http://www.sdstate.edu/hflp/extension/master-gardener.cfm.