Well, it's official, I am an intern once again. It's been a long time since I've had that status but this time it's a little different.
For the past 2 1/2 months, I've been taking the Master Gardener class thru Ohio State University Extension (OSU Extension). OSU Extension's mission is to help people improve their lives through an educational process using scientific knowledge focused on identified issues and needs. Like soil and water conservation districts, extension offices have a history behind them. The Morril Act of 1862 created the land grant university system. In 1870, Ohio State University was founded as a land grant institution. The Hatch Act of 1887 provided funds to states for an agricultural experiment station and the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created and provided cooperative funding for Agricultural Extension in each state. So again, much like the soil and water conservation districts across our country, OSU Extension has a history and a rich one.
The Master Gardener program mission is to provide knowledge to and develop the leadership abilities of volunteers who, in turn, enable others to improve the quality of their lives by enhancing their home and community environments through horticultural education and activities. It is a volunteer educational program designed to meet the horticultural needs of citizens of Ohio. Its purpose is to train volunteers and utilize their expertise to teach people more about plants, their culture, their importance to the environment and to our quality of life. Currently there are around 200 Master Gardener volunteers in Cuyahoga County.
Ohio Master Gardener volunteers contributed more than 184,000 hours of service in 2015, totaling more than $4 million in services to their communities. There are currently 2,927 active Master Gardener volunteers in Ohio.
The class is 10 weeks and covers topics such as botany, plant parts, soils, composting, vegetables and herbs, plants propagation, plant pathology, fruits, entomology, integrated pest management, fertilizer and turf, and much more. After the 10 week course, you become a Master Gardener intern. During 2017, I will put in 50 hours of volunteer time and officially become a Master Gardener next Fall.
I highly recommend this course. I learned so much thru the coursework and know that the detailed information will be thru the volunteer experience when answering questions, manning the Master Gardener hotline, working events, etc. Do I know everything? Absolutely not. But I know where to look to get unbiased and factual information. For example, a great way to access to extension fact sheets (of OSU and other extension offices in various states) is to do a google search for your topic and put the words University Extension after it. You will find this bring up the fact sheets from various extension offices. Again, these are non-biased, research-based fact sheets. There is a lot of information out there and you want the correct ones to make decisions about your needs.
So I'm an intern again, however this time without having to get anyone coffee. I'm thankful the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District offers us the opportunity for training and I look forward to incorporating more knowledge into my job and into my personal life.
Blog author: Amy Roskilly, Conservation Education Specialist