Yankton Extension Master Gardener class seeks participants for unique training

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service is offering Extension Master Gardener training in Yankton. The application deadline is April 14.

The Master Gardener course will take place at the Yankton County Extension office on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on May 26, June 2, 9, 16, 23, and June 30, and on July 7, 14, and July 21.

To sign up, call the Yankton County Extension office at 605-665-3387, or print an application at the Extension Master Gardener website at this link: http://www.sdstate.edu/hflp/extension/master-gardener.cfm. The Yankton County Extension Horticulture website also has information at this link: http://yanktonhorticulture.webs.com/.

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.

Participants receive more than 60 hours of instruction covering 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. To retain status of a Master Gardener, graduates also must provide 10 hours of volunteer time annually. 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.

If an individual desires, they may take the course for $500. They will receive the same training and materials, but they do not earn the Master Gardener title, nor are they required to contribute the 50-hour volunteer requirement.

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