Virginia Cooperative Extension Announces Their 2023 Master Gardener Course
Are you a gardener or landowner who would like to learn more about the soils and plants of our area? Would you like to learn how to fix that problem area in your yard? Would you like to take your gardening knowledge and experience to the next level? The Halifax Virginia Cooperative Extension Office is proud to announce that we are now taking applications for the upcoming 2023 Master Gardener Course that will start on Tuesday January 10, 2023.
The Master Gardener program is a volunteer program offered by Virginia Cooperative Extension, an educational arm of Virginia Tech & State University. The program is designed to prepare citizens to become Master Gardener volunteers who help spread best practices and research-based information from our two Land grant Universities to the community. We currently have 64 active Master Gardeners who proudly serve the citizens of Halifax County and Southside Virginia. You may be someone who has participated in one of our Master Gardener educational programs. Why not come join us, learn some new skills, and have fun sharing with others!
You might be wondering, is the course really for me? Anyone can become a Master Gardener – you don't need a degree in horticulture or extensive gardening experience! You do, however, need to have a sincere desire to learn and share information about plants of all types and care about protecting our environment. Although it helps if you have practical experience or knowledge of gardening, beginners and those who don’t have a “Green Thumb,” finish the course with a wealth of knowledge that hasn’t been tainted with years of ‘bad practices,’ and develop new confidence in their gardening abilities.
Some of the fun activities that Master Gardeners do is helping children learn to garden early by letting them create a Fairy Garden.
Halifax Master Gardeners, once trained, spend their time sharing that knowledge with others in our communities. Some of what they share is how to put the right plant in the right place, how to control pests without harming the environment, how to use/conserve water and how to plan and plant gardens as well as planning landscapes that are beautiful, functional and sustainable.
If you enjoy working with other people, from youth to mature adults and enjoy growing things, this course could be for you. The course takes 3 hours out of each week for sixteen weeks to become a better gardener and to develop the skills and abilities to share with your neighbors and fellow Southside citizens. You will gain knowledge from some of the best instructors we have in Southside Virginia. We draw educators from professionals from Virginia Tech, Botanist, Researchers, and some of our very experienced Master Gardeners.
You will learn how to apply research-based answers to yours and other’s questions about the culture of vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, lawns/turf, flowers, bulbs, houseplants, trees and shrubs, ornamental grasses and roses as well as integrated management of insects, diseases and other pests. You will get a greater understanding of our soils and nutrient management, as well.
In addition to the excellent training that you will receive, you will meet people with common interests; develop enduring friendships and gain satisfaction and recognition from using your talents to enhance the quality of life for the people you help. You will continue to learn "on the job," and may participate in advanced training opportunities. Active Master Gardeners will automatically receive a subscription to “In Season” newsletter from Virginia Cooperative Extension, along with our local Southside Master Gardener bi-monthly publication “The Garden Chatter”.
With the privilege of taking the classes, comes the responsibility of "helping others learn to grow." When you sign up for the program, you make a commitment to give back at least 50 hours of your time volunteering during the first year. For example, you can help with our “Help Desk, help maintain, improve landscape design, or provide tours at the Southside’s only botanical garden, Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens. Perhaps you will find yourself working on educational displays for public educational programs that we put on throughout the county and towns. You will have an opportunity to assist in some of our joint projects with educational services with other partnering non-profit organizations throughout the county. Some of the educational programs our Master Gardeners are involved in include plant care, tool care, rain barrel, hypertufa and other workshops, pruning clinics, and other proposed and existing horticulture related classes at different venues in Halifax County.
Teaching others about gardening and land care is very rewarding. If you enjoy working with youth, Master Gardeners engage in youth educational activities through VCE’s 4-H program. Soil and Plant Sciences are part of the curriculum for our public and private schools. You may want to assist with educational programs through our joint efforts at the Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens at Edmunds Park and the Healthy Harvest Community Garden in Halifax. Opportunities abound and are available to enjoy helping others in our community or public or private school gardens. Other options include a horticulture therapy garden, staffing informational booths at public events, giving gardening talks or demonstrations in the community, or even providing administrative assistance to the Master Gardener program. Sign-ups for volunteer opportunities begin during the classes, and continues throughout the year. Many Master Gardeners choose to continue "helping others learn to grow" year after year. We have Master Gardeners who have been teaching and volunteering for over thirty-three years.
I can tell you from experience that being a Master Gardener is rewarding, enjoyable, and yes, at times, challenging as you learn new environmental skills. And, if you ask any of our active Master Gardeners, they will tell you about the FUN and comradery they enjoy as volunteers.
If you are interested in taking the course and help both yourself and others, you can obtain an application by going on line to https://halifax.ext.vt.edu/. Applications are available at the Halifax Virginia Cooperative Extension office located at 171 S. Main Street (next to the Library) in the town of Halifax. You can learn more about the Master Gardener Course and Program by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, stopping by the office or by calling 476-2147, option 0 and asking for the Master Gardener Coordinator or an on-duty Master Gardener.