After retiring from teaching for many years, becoming a Master Gardener seemed a natural extension of my lifelong interest.I called the LSU Extension office and signed up to take the Master Gardener class. The Master Gardener course included 12 class meetings and included such topics as soils, insects, and plant propagation. I was definitely hooked.
At the conclusion of 12 weeks there was a test! I know no one wants to take a test. But, this was an open notebook take-home test. All the questions were answered in the notebook supplied by the LSU Cooperative Extension Service. Help was readily available and no one I know had any trouble passing “the test”.
The other thing frequently mentioned is the service component of being a Master Gardener. The first year requires 40 hours of service and each year thereafter, 20 hours. Not much of a problem since community service is one of the reasons to become a Master Gardener. However, that is less than an hour per week the first year. Working on any one of the projects allows a member to meet the requirement easily.
Speaking of projects, what projects are available to Master Gardeners? We maintain four small public gardens in our area and are currently developing a butterfly garden in downtown Ruston. We have two gardens at the Lincoln Parish Park requiring more work that any of us had planned since the deer have proved to be quite interested in our plantings. We also maintain the garden at the Dixie Theater. There is a tree trail at the Lincoln Parish Park initiated by Master Gardeners. This past year we offered seminars at the Lincoln Parish Library. The sessions offered pertinent gardening information and were free to the public. We hold two fund-raisers per year, a fall and a spring plant sale. Revenue from our plant sales provide maintenance for our gardens, the tree trail, funding for three scholarships, and the gardening seminars.We provide scholarships for two LA Tech students who are majoring in an area related to plants. This year we awarded a scholarship to a graduating senior from an area high school.
I have failed to mention the most rewarding part of being a Master Gardener. Easily, the best part is the friendships developed as we work on projects and share our common interests.We are a diverse group of men and women.We have taken trips together (visiting the Rose Garden and nurseries in the Tyler, Texas area this year). We visit each other’s gardens. We share plants. We ask and answer questions that we encounter in our own gardens.I have come to know many wonderful people that I would never have otherwise encountered.
So, how to become a Master Gardener and part of a group like this?Pretty simple; call the LSU AgCenter (318-251-5134).If you register before July 20, 2018 cost is $125(after July 20 $150).Classes this year will begin on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 22 and will continue until November 7.You are expected to attend 80% of the training sessions which meet once a week.At the first meeting you will receive an invaluable Master Gardener notebook that you can keep and refer to for many years. The information offered by the speakers is excellent – and you can ask questions!
Becoming a Master Gardener is one of the best decisions I have ever made.I have learned so much, been inspired by the many gardens I have visited, and the outstanding speakers I have heard at our monthly meetings.Additionally I have made so many new friends who share my passion for growing things.
This article was submitted by Donna White, Lincoln Parish Master Gardener.