Monday, June 14, 2010

Jack of All Trades

"Jack of all trades ~ Master of none"
Although that description is sometimes used in a negative way, it is a positive/good description of the Master Gardener.
Master Gardeners (MG) don't profess to know everything about everything in the horticultural world. It isn't how they are taught nor the purpose of their education.
Master Gardeners may indeed have mastered many things, but, they don't profess to know it all. Nor is it necessary they serve others in every way others may desire.
~I thought a little tutorial on the Master Gardener program might be beneficial~
Usually a State University provides the education necessary for the Master Gardener program through it's Extension Offices. In Illinois, the University of Illinois and in Indiana, Purdue University. Contact your county Extension office for your specifics.
The MG classes may be held in each county or as funding for Extension programs are being reduced, the classes may be a cooperative effort between several counties. Typically, the instructors are University faculty. The University also provides the books, reserves the classrooms, and functions similar to in-house college courses. There is a charge for the MG course, books and supplies.

The program is very intensive, both in material and structure. It is graded and doesn't allow for failure or absence.

It teaches an in-depth overview (is that an oxymoron?) of all things horticulture - It does not specifically apply to farm and commercial businesses. It is updated as conditions, knowledge, and practices change.

One of the best taught courses of the program is where and how to find the correct information and answers. With this under a MG belt (or shovel), a MG becomes much more knowledgeable for their own benefit and the benefit of others.
Essentially, the MG program is offered to teach enthusiasts, which in turn allows them to help others. It is the main criteria for being accepted into the program.

Not only does a graduate MG walk away with their Master Gardener certification, they must agree to perform certain tasks for a certain number of hours yearly to keep their active MG status.

There are several misconceptions among the public:
  • MGs are not free garden labor. Volunteers may choose to do projects that involve physical labor but that isn't necessary to participate in the program. The MG will not be providing services that takes business away from area professionals.

  • MGs may choose what projects they wish to volunteer or they may develop ones of their own (with University approval).

  • MGs are not contestants from a horticulture game show. They can almost always get an answer but they may not always have that answer on the tip of their tongue.

  • MGs may not wish to host a garden walk, allow garden visitors, or showcase their yard simply because they have horticulture knowledge.
Some benefits of being a Master Gardener:
  • The immediate and expanded resources that are made available through the MG program is a wonderful thing to those involved in a broader gardening effort. Some may be people who have personal gardens on a larger scale, a nursery owner, a plant breeder or others with broader horticultural interests.

  • It will be a group of like-minded garden enthusiasts that will open doors to new interests.

  • It is often a place where you will make new friends and colleagues.

  • The books & supplies will be a home reference for years to come.

  • The MG program will help you find outlets to volunteer and give back to your community.

  • Resources, faculty, and information will be available to the MG for as long as they carry the MG title.

  • MGs are often invited to participate in more high level programs. A few of these could be: 4-H Fair judge, own a test garden for a breeder or nursery, and invitations to private garden tours.

  • The program teaches tolerance and appreciation for others' garden efforts and ideas.

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