9/05/12 As we deal with invasive insects and plants and unusual weather like the drought this year, Purdue Extension Master Gardeners are a valuable resource in our communities to share gardening information. Purdue Extension Master Gardeners are required to attend 36 hours of training, pass an exam to demonstrate knowledge of material, and provide 35 hours of community service to share this knowledge.

In the initial 36 hours of training, interns learn about plant science, fertility, plant care, and pest management.  Our communities benefit first by having more neighbors and friends that have more knowledge of horticulture to share and second by interns need to document 35 hours of sharing horticultural knowledge in their community to earn the title of Master Gardener.

The Marshall County Master Gardener Association builds upon this initial educational series by having monthly meetings that include horticultural updates, knowledgeable speakers, and visits to area horticultural businesses and attractions.  They have had updates on new invasive pests and plants such at the Emerald ash borer, Gypsy moth, Brown marmorated stink bug, bush honeysuckle, and garlic mustard.  They have also had updates on the impact of the drought recently.  This knowledge not only benefits them, it benefits those they know and those that attend their educational presentations and displays.

If you would like to become a Master Gardener, you can attend a Purdue Extension Master Gardener intern training series in your community.  Marshall County Extension Office is holding one and it begins on Thursday evening September 6th and continues for sixteen evening classes on Tuesday and Thursday through December 13.

The class series is being held at the Marshall County Extension Office located east of the Marshall County Courthouse at 112 Jefferson Street one block west of Michigan Street.

Once this class is completed and 35 volunteer hours documented, you will become a Purdue Master Gardener and be eligible to be active in our local organization and in state and national level programs.  Participating in this program and being a member of our local organization is a great way for gardeners to make new friends and to further their horticulture knowledge.

The cost of the Marshall County Master Gardener Intern Class is only $140, which includes a $70 Master Gardener textbook, or $200 for a couple willing to share textbook and handouts.  Again, this program will start on Thursday evening, September 6th.  Class size is limited to the first 25 individuals.  For more information on the Master Gardener Intern Class and Purdue Master Gardener Program or to obtain the registration form, call the Marshall County Extension Office at (574) 935-8545, visit our Marshall County Extension Office web page, e-mail Robert Yoder at ryoder@purdue.edu or like us on the Purdue Extension Marshall County Ag & Natural Resources Facebook page.