Johnny Morgan | 5/26/2016 3:43:04 PM
(05/17/16) NEW ORLEANS – A class of 71 advanced Master Gardeners received their new badges and certifications during a special ceremony at the Louisiana Master Gardener state convention in New Orleans on May 12.
These volunteers have received an additional two years of training, which included obtaining a private pesticide applicator license and completing five core classes. Participants also completed two interest-area classes and passed an exam pertaining to horticulture concepts, said Louisiana Master Gardener state coordinator Miles Brashier.
The idea for the program began in 2012 with LSU AgCenter agent Rene Schmit, from St. Charles Parish, Brashier said.
“He had the initial idea, but we were kind of scattered in our approach,” he said. “So coming back from one of our planning meetings in 2014, AgCenter agent Sara Shields and I started to write down some ideas and began to develop a plan.”
Following two years of in-class and online instruction, the graduates have distinguished themselves as leaders in the horticulture industry, Brashier said.
Opening the ceremony, LSU AgCenter associate vice president for plant and soil sciences Rogers Leonard gave thanked the Master Gardeners for the work they do for the AgCenter.
“We look at this as an opportunity to challenge our Master Gardeners to take the skills that they already have and multiply those to expand that skill set,” Leonard said.
Other speakers on the program were two graduates of the class, Michelle Morris and Cam Morton.
Morton talked about the importance of integrated pest management (IPM), and Morris discussed her work with school gardens.
Morton said integrated pest management helps the environment by decreasing the use of chemicals and increasing the use of beneficial insects.
Morton explained that IPM is not the most expensive control method nor the least expensive. “IPM is a decision-making process that is based on ecological, economical and sociological values and restrictions.”
Morris, who is from Natchitoches Parish, explained how she developed the love for gardening from her grandfather, who taught her all the basics.
“The way I give back some of what I’ve learned as a Master Gardener is to work with the schools in my parish,” she said. “I do a lot of that work with first grade students. So it is great watching them learn the importance of gardening.”
The Louisiana Master Gardener program was started in Baton Rouge in 1994 to extend the educational outreach of the AgCenter's Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service.
“It was adopted statewide in 1997, and now is offered in 23 parishes with volunteer participation in 46 parishes,” Brashier said. “Master Gardeners serve many roles in helping county agents deliver educational horticultural programs and information.”
To become a Master Gardener, an individual must complete a 50-hour training program and in the first year volunteer 40 hours. In succeeding years they must give 20 hours of service per year and complete six continuing education hours.
Cam Morton, one of the 71 graduates of the first Louisiana Advanced Master Gardener class, discussed the importance of integrated pest management at the graduation ceremony during the Louisiana Master Gardener state convention in New Orleans on May 12. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)
Cindy Metcalf, a Greater New Orleans Master Gardener receives her Advanced Master Gardener badge and certificate during the graduation ceremony that was part of the Louisiana Master Gardener state convention in New Orleans on May 12. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)