The UCONN Master Gardener program is probably the best kept secret in the state! Did you know that anyone can take the course and become a certified Master Gardener? But wait – exactly what is a Master Gardener?
Folks who love to garden and learn about our environment are perfect candidates for the program. Master Gardeners are educators – we do everything we can to teach the public about things that are important to the health of our state and its natural environment. We learn to identify invasive plants, insects, and animals. We work to protect the integrity of our natural resources by learning about Integrated Pest Management and plant diseases.
We are strong volunteers, working in outreach programs such as community gardens, or educational booths for fairs and farmers markets. In a word, we are volunteers to support UCONN’s horticultural education throughout the state.
A community garden model managed by Middlesex Master Gardeners
So, what does becoming a Master Gardener entail?
From application* to certification takes nine months. That’s right. Classes begin in January and meet one day a week for 16 weeks at one of five locations. Following that, interns must complete 30 hours of in-service training at one of the County Extension offices or the Bartlett Arboretum and 30 hours on an approved community project. During the summer, five diagnostic clinics are held and interns are required to attend at least one. By October, interns are ready to take the final diagnostic exam and receive their certification.
Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Master Gardeners are an interesting and diversified group from all walks of life and many have valuable experience to share. The commitment to join this group will reward you with connections and friendships that are deeply rooted and well-tended.
Contact an Extension Center Near You
Fairfield County Extension Center
67 Stony Hill Road
Bethel, CT 06801
Hartford County Extension Center
1800 Asylum Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117
Litchfield County Extension Center
843 University Drive
Torrington, CT 06790
Middlesex County Extension Center
1066 Saybrook Road
Haddam, CT 06438
New Haven County Extension Center
305 Skiff Street
North Haven, CT 06473
New London County Extension Center
562 New London Turnpike
Norwich, CT 06360
Tolland County Extension Center
24 Hyde Road
Vernon, CT 06066
Windham County Extension Center
139 Wolf Den Road
Brooklyn, CT 06234
UConn Extension Master Gardener Plant Clinic
at Bartlett Arboretum
151 Brookdale Road
Stamford, CT 06903
203-322-6971 ext. 18
* The application for the Class of 2016 is due no later than November 6, 2015.
This article and photographs were provided by Toni Leland, a Connecticut freelance writer and Master Gardener in southeastern Connecticut. She is available for assignment on a wide range of subjects: travel, history, nature, gardening, wildlife, cooking, writing, horses, and outdoor living to name a few.
Toni’s fiction has appeared in several anthologies, magazines, and various writing newsletters,and she keeps up with the writing community through her Facebook page, as well as membership in Sisters In Crime and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association.
Visit her website www.tonileland.com and contact her by email for further information.