Northern Neck Master Gardeners seek applicants for their 2013 training class that starts January 15, 2013. “We typically hold this class every other year to train a new group of volunteers,” President Sharon Stieber said. “If you are interested in horticulture and are looking for a way to improve our community through volunteer service, we hope you will consider becoming Northern Neck Master Gardener.”
Master Gardener volunteers number more than 5,000 statewide. Through resources of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and Virginia Cooperative Extension, the organization provides research-based information on horticultural topics. “The Northern Neck, with its unpredictable weather and proximity to the Bay, presents a unique set of gardening challenges,” said Stieber. “We focus on those issues of most concern to local residents, with education programs that take into account the fragile balance between responsible gardening and conserving our land and waters.” Northern Neck Master Gardeners provide science enrichment programs in schools, diagnose plant problems and answer questions at local farmers’ markets, conduct seminars and workshops, advise homeowners on shoreline issues, and maintain several teaching gardens to demonstrate core principles.
“You don’t need to be an expert gardener to apply,” said Stieber. “Trainees need to have an enthusiasm for the fundamental aspects of gardening.” Classroom work is designed to provide a background in all areas of horticulture. To be certified as a Northern Neck Master Gardener, participants must commit to completing 50 hours of project and class time and a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service. A basic knowledge of computers and access to e-mail and the Internet is also a requirement. Each year, to maintain certification, Master Gardeners must volunteer a minimum of twenty hours in approved projects and must complete eight hours of continuing education.
The 2013 class runs from January 15 to March 28 and will usually be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to about 12:30. Pre-registration is required and there is a fee of $130 for books and materials. To register, applicants are asked to contact Northumberland Cooperative Extension at (804) 580-5694 firstname.lastname@example.org.