Master Gardeners experience pilot training program

Johnny Morgan  |  7/24/2018 4:48:33 PM

(07/23/18) NEW ORLEANS — Residents in the Greater New Orleans area are experiencing a new type of Master Gardener training.

In past years, those training to become Master Gardeners attended two three hour lectures every week to become certified. But a new pilot program allows the students to watch the presentations online and then come to lab sessions for hands-on experience.

LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Anna Timmerman said the new style of teaching the course is called the “flip classroom” model.

“We see this as a better way to present the information without having the students sit through the presentations, and it frees up the lecturers,” Timmerman said.

Before the lectures were recorded, AgCenter specialists had to be on-site to teach each session. Now the students can view the lectures in the comfort of their own homes.

“So now when they come to class, rather than coming to receive a lecture, they are mainly coming to put into practice what they’ve been studying at home,” Timmerman said. “When they come to class now, we can spend that time together answering questions.”

At each table in the lab, a current Master Gardener helps those in training with their assignments, Timmerman said.

“We actually hope the mentors will keep them interested,” she said.

AgCenter extension associate Chris Dunaway teaches a section on turfgrass and the use of pesticides.

“I have four types of sod here so they know the different types of grasses,” Dunaway said. “It works better if they know what types of sod they are dealing with. You can save one grass with a product but kill another.”

Usha Ramadhyami, who has been a Master Gardener for one year, says being a Master Gardener is therapeutic.

“First, it is a benefit to self, and then it has so many benefits to the environment,” she said. “We are involved in a variety of projects from cleaning up at the Hammond Research Station to raising vegetables at City Park.”

Andrea Galliano, a Master Gardener trainee who is a retired teacher, said she did a lot of gardening projects with her students.

“The training helps me to also do a better job in my own garden,” she said. “I realized that there was so much that I didn’t know, so it is really helping me out a lot.”

Since its inception in 1994, more than 3,500 people have participated in the program and been certified as Louisiana Master Gardeners.

The Master Gardener program is a volunteer development program offered by the LSU AgCenter.

The nine-week class is open to anyone with an interest in horticulture and a spirit of volunteering.

After the training, they have to do 40 hours of volunteer service the first year, then 20 hour per year after that.

Once they complete the training, volunteers can work at schools with gardens, at City Park in New Orleans and in AgCenter offices, where they answer questions from the public.

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LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Anna Timmerman, right, shares information with students in the Greater New Orleans Master Gardener class at Delgado Community College. The new “flip classroom” model allows the students to do much of their coursework outside of class and come to the lab once a week for nine weeks for hands-on instruction. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter extension associate Chris Dunaway, left, demonstrates how to identify problems in turfgrass and the proper use of pesticides during the Master Gardener training at Delgado College. The “flip classroom” model allows the students to view lectures at home and come to class prepared for hands-on demonstrations. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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