What does it take to become a master?The Dakota County Master Gardeners are looking for a few good men and women to join the ranks. It’s not quite as formal as the Army but dedication and a penchant for helping people are required.
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
The Dakota County Master Gardeners are looking for a few good men and women to join the ranks. It’s not quite as formal as the Army but dedication and a penchant for helping people are required.
The master gardener program is an outreach of the University of Minnesota Extension Agency in Dakota County. Barbara Stendahl coordinates the program, which has 130 master gardeners, and the wide variety of community activities they do throughout the year.
The mission of the program, Stendahl said, is to teach the residents of Dakota County about gardening and horticulture. Master gardeners volunteer in a number of ways including helping with Habitat for Humanity houses throughout the county, speaking with Girl and Boy Scout groups, planting and caring for the U of M Research and Display Gardens on the Umore property and teaching classes for youth and adults.
Master gardener applicants will receive 48 hours of classroom instruction. Stendahl said the training goes over the basics of horticulture and gardening.
“It’s kind of the basics of horticulture condensed into 48 hours,” said Stendahl. “It includes everything from gardening, botany to composting. Everything you could think of.”
She admitted its a lot to fit into a short period of time but said it gets the individuals prepared for their time with the public.
Master gardener John Zweber said he still gets stumped every now and again, though. That where university resources come in handy.
“You may not know every answer but you know where to find it,” said Zweber.
In exchange for the education master gardeners receive, the newly trained experts are required to volunteer for 50 hours in the first year. While it’s a big time commitment Stendahl said most don’t have any problems meeting the requirement.
“Our group in Dakota County is extremely active and there are lots of opportunities to volunteer,” said Stendahl.
After the first year master gardeners are required to complete 12 hours of training a year and 25 hours of volunteer time, again a commitment Stendahl said most don’t have any trouble meeting.
Individuals become master gardeners for a variety of reason. Some do it because they love gardening and helping people. Others, like Sue Carlson, have professional motivations.
Carlson owns Suescapes, a landscape design company in Rosemount. She joined the master gardeners in 2005 while attending Dakota County Technical College to get a degree in horticulture and landscape design.
“It seemed like a good fit for what I wanted to do,” said Carlson.
Since getting involved with the program Carlson has had the opportunity to learn a lot and to meet some interesting people.
“It definitely keeps me abreast of new products, issues and it really helps me further my knowledge,” said Carlson.
While he joined the program because he like gardening, Zweber said he most enjoys the camaraderie of the program.
“It’s a great way to meet people who enjoy the same thing you do,” said Zweber.
Zweber, who works full, time said making time for master gardener duties isn’t always easy but he does because he enjoys it.
“I definitely have to plan out time,” said Zweber.
For more information on the Dakota County Master Gardener’s program call Babara Stendahl at 651-480-7727 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To obtain application materials call Peggy at 651- 480-7700. The deadline to submit a program application is Friday, Oct. 3.