The Okaloosa County Extension Office is taking applications for the 2015 Master Gardener training course. The Master Garden Program in Florida is a joint endeavor of University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension and gardening volunteers in participating counties. This program is specifically designed to recruit and train volunteers to help meet the demands placed on extension personnel by home gardeners.
The primary requirements for participation in the Master Gardener Program are:
- A sincere interest in horticulture.
- A willingness to work with and help other people.
- Time and flexibility to complete all requirements of the program.
Master Gardener training classes will be held each Tuesday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) beginning August 4 and ending November 10, 2015. Most of the classes during the fifteen week course will be held at the Okaloosa County Extension Office, 3098 Airport Road in Crestview. Instruction will include classroom training conducted by county extension agents and UF/IFAS Extension specialists.
Training will include sessions on plant physiology, insects, plant diseases, care of landscape plants, vegetable gardening, fruit gardening, lawn management, landscape design and irrigation.
After successfully completing the program, participants will then be ready to begin seventy-five hours of service agreed to in return for training.
Volunteer activities allow Master Gardeners to continue to learn while assisting the public. For instance, all Master Gardeners answer phone calls in the extension office from other gardeners wanting lawn, landscape or garden information. The volunteers learn as they research the correct answers to these questions. This is a great way to sharpen garden problem-solving skills and provides a tremendous public service.
Master Gardeners help maintain the landscape at the Extension office in Crestview and a plant nursery in Fort Walton Beach. They help with other projects such as speaking to groups or giving technical advice to schools with garden projects. They create, install and staff educational exhibits at local events. Master gardeners may return some of their volunteer time by working in plant clinics, assisting the 4-H youth program, etc.
There is a charge for the course to help cover course materials. Space is limited.
To receive an application for the 2015 Master Gardener training course, call the Okaloosa County Extension Office at 689-5850, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Applications must be returned by July 13 to be considered.