Those wanting to become a Master Gardener should contact their local OSU Cooperative Extension Center and see if it offers a Master Gardener program.
“Right now, about 30 counties in Oklahoma offer the program and, even if your county doesn't, hopefully one in your area will,” said Ray Ridlen, an agriculture/horticulture educator for the Oklahoma County Extension Service. “Really, the only requirement to become a Master Gardener is that you love gardening and are willing to share that love with others.”
Individuals in the program also must attend a series of classes that begins in early September and continues through November. The classes meet every Tuesday and offer instruction in vegetable gardening, lawn care, fruit production, landscaping, tree planting and care, pruning, insect and disease control, soil improvement, and a long list of other horticulture subjects.
Too, Master Gardeners must donate 60 hours of their time to assist others in their community by helping answer gardening and landscaping questions of individuals who either call or come by the Extension Service office.
In addition to setting up information booths at garden festivals and during community programs, Master Gardeners are on hand every working day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma County OSU Extension Center to answer questions, Ridlen said.
The only charge for the Master Gardener program is a $100 course work fee. After completing the 12 weeks of training, a participant must take a certification exam, which will qualify he or she for the title of Oklahoma Master Gardener.
In addition to volunteering their time, Master Gardeners also meet once a month to extend their knowledge of gardening subjects. They also travel together to see gardening projects throughout our area and are one of the most dynamic groups meeting in our state.
“First off we consider the Master Gardener program as a community service organization,” Ridlen said. “We have our monthly meetings for our members and bring in speakers from across the state and across the nation. We take four to five bus tours a year, this year we have traveled to Arkansas, Stillwater, and the Dallas Arboretum.
“Later this fall we will have a member garden's tour and a tour of Devon Tower/ Myriad Gardens. Our monthly meetings and trips are events that bring our members together for social interaction between the members.”
For more information about the Master Gardener program, go to http://mastergardener.okstate.edu/