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Panhandle Master Gardener Training Program to begin

Panhandle Master Gardener Training Program to begin

Nebraska Extension’s Master Gardener Program is taking applications for Panhandle residents who enjoy horticulture, want to learn more, and are willing to volunteer to share their knowledge with their community.

      Master Gardener training will begin in early February at several sites in the Panhandle. To sign up for the program, call your local Nebraska Extension County Office, or pick up a brochure from Extension offices in Scottsbluff, Alliance or Sidney.

      The brochure has a registration form that needs to be completed and returned by Jan. 31. The brochure also can be downloaded from the Panhandle Center website, https://panhandle.unl.edu

      For more information contact Extension Educators John Thomas in Alliance (308-762-5616), Gary Stone in Scottsbluff (308-632-1480), or Karen DeBoer in Sidney (308-254-4455).

      The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program has been part of Nebraska Extension since 1976. Master Gardener volunteers are trained by Extension faculty and staff in many horticulture-related topics. They then contribute time as volunteers, working through their local extension office, to provide horticulture-related information to their community.

      Volunteers might answer phones at a county extension office, make horticulture presentations to community organizations, assist 4-H clubs with garden projects, judge horticulture exhibits at county and state fairs, participate in community garden projects, write a garden column for the local paper, and more.

      Master Gardeners are required to complete training and 40 annual hours of volunteer service. Initial training curriculum covers topics encompassing the whole landscape such as; plant science, botany, insects, weed, wildlife, and turfgrass management, soils and pesticide safety. Volunteers retain their certification through annual training and volunteering.

      Applicants should be at least 19 years old with a strong work ethic and an interest in learning more about horticulture and landscape systems.

      The 2020 training will begin in early February, with weekly training classes running into late February or early March. The training consists of three statewide classes available at Extension Offices in Alliance, Scottsbluff and Sidney, and the four advanced training sessions that will take place in Scottsbluff.

      Participation is $40 for either the three statewide sessions or the four sessions in Scottsbluff, or $55 to attend all sessions. Individual sessions are $15 ($20 for the session at the NRD office, which includes lunch). For an additional $110 fee, Master Gardeners receive a t-shirt, Master Gardener manual, and name badge.

The Fundamentals

      The four statewide sessions will take place Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8 p.m. on Feb. 11, 18, and 25 and March 3. Through the use of Zoom distance conferencing technology, they will be available at the Extension offices in Alliance, Scottsbluff and Sidney. Local Nebraska Extension Educators at each of the sites to help answer questions. Topics include:

      Feb. 11: Landscape Management (Extension Educator Terri James).

      Feb. 18: Rots and Spots – biotic and abiotic issues in landscape systems using integrated pest management practices, (Extension Educator Kyle Broderick).

      Feb. 25: Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program (Terri James); and Soils (Becky Young, Assistant Professor of Practice, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture).

      March 3: Bugs (Extension Educator Jody Green).

Advanced classes

      For proficient (as well as beginner) gardeners, the daytime classes run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 3, 10, 17, and 24. They will take place at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, except for the Feb. 3 session, which will take place at the North Platte Natural Resources District Office, 100547 Airport RD, Scottsbluff.

      The topics are designed for advanced Master Gardeners; however, they are open to everyone. Topics include:

      Feb. 3 (NRD office): Review of Nebraska Master Gardener Forms, Record Keeping, Volunteer Opportunities, and Writing Public Service Announcements (Karen DeBoer, Extension Educator; and Laurie Zitterkopf and Elaine Pile, Master Gardeners); Greenhouse Tour (Jenifer Berge Sauter, NPNRD); NRD Tree Planting Program (Todd Filipi, NPNRD); and Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrub Fruits (Chrissy Land, Nebraska Forest Service).

      Feb. 11: Garden Design (Extension Educator David Lott); Plant Propagation – Demonstration and Hands-On, Using Different Methods (David Lott).

      Feb. 18: Garden Diseases (Extension Educator Amy Timmerman); Pesticide Safety – What to Wear, and Reading Labels (Extension Educator Gary Stone).

      Feb. 24: Decorative/Ornamental Grasses and Maintenance (Extension Educator Elizabeth Killinger); Perennial Flower Gardening/Succession Flowering (Extension Educator Kelly Feehan)

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