Master Gardeners spring enrollment opens through Jan. 23
By Justin Miller
For the Enquirer
The Alabama Extension Master Gardeners Volunteer Program is ideal for those who have a wealth of gardening expertise they are itching to share with others, as well as those who want to learn more and become involved in community projects. Enrollment for the program is open now.
Through this program, volunteers work with Alabama Cooperative Extension System professionals to bring the latest gardening information to their communities.
According to the Extension, three Rs describe Master Gardeners: reliable, relevant and reachable. Kerry Smith, Master Gardeners Program state coordinator, said this group of hard-working volunteers is motivated by their passion for sharing all things horticulture.
“Our gardening advice and programs are science-based and timely,” Smith said. “These volunteers are also easily accessible. By calling our helpline at 877-252-4769, people can connect with a volunteer who is ready to answer their questions.”
Before volunteers can be certified as Master Gardeners, they must participate in a series of trainings as “interns.” These trainings include 50 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction.
“While 50 hours might seem like a lot, it is critical that our volunteers prepare to support local gardening projects and priorities,” Smith said.
Classes cover topics related to home lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetable gardening and more, available both in-person and virtually. Interns may attend in-person classes in any of the hosting counties, regardless of their residence location.
Enrollment for the 2022 spring training series in open until Jan. 23. Training will begin Feb. 3. Registration for training is completed online at www.aces.edu.
A registration fee is necessary to start the training, and people must have a background check to volunteer.
Once someone reaches Master Gardener certification, they must report 25 hours of volunteer service annually. Many opportunities are available for people to accumulate these hours.
“We have a variety of projects,” Smith said, “from volunteering with the helpline to workshops, demonstration gardens, library programs, school gardens and more.”