Master Gardener Program
covers lawn, garden techniques
brightens their communities
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(January 2010) For those who spend winter
dreaming of warmer days and spring flowers, the Purdue Master Gardener
Program offers the perfect way to beat the chill.
The Purdue Master Gardener Program in Indiana began in 1978 as a way
to encourage continuing education in horticulture and is coordinated
through the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. From four
initial counties the program has expanded to most of the state this
spring more than 75 counties will offer courses. Jefferson Extension
Educator Lonnie Mason says that Jefferson County has been involved in
the program for about the past 10 years while Scott County has been
active for the last 20 years. Mason estimates that about 15-20 students
a year participate in the Jefferson County classes.
Whitford, Purdue Extension
specialist, teaches a class on proper
application techniques during last
years Master Gardener series.
Ken Schneider, 53, of Hanover, Ind., explains his decision
to take part in the program saying, I have always loved gardening.
He encourages those considering the classes, Go for it! You learn
skills that can help you in the lawn or garden.
The registration deadline for the Jefferson County program is Jan. 6.
A $90 fee is charged to cover the cost of materials. Those interested
may contact the Extension Office for an application. Most sessions will
take place at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, though a few classes
may meet at other area sites allowing for more varied demonstrations.
Its a 12-week program structured around different topics,
Mason said. Theres a different speaker every time.
This years courses will run from the end of January through mid-April,
with classes meeting Mondays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. At the end of the
course, participants may take the Master Gardener test and then at the
completion of 35 hours of community service will be certified as Master
Classes cover topics ranging from plant and soil science to tailoring
care to particular types of lawns. Students will learn how to improve
their skills with vegetable production and ornamental plants while other
classes may include landscaping design and tips for keeping indoor plants.
Schneider particularly enjoyed the fact that he was able to use many
of the lessons directly in his own yard. I loved learning about
different techniques, such as correct time and way to fertilize a lawn,
different pests and control of pests, correct pruning techniques.
After completing the course work and passing an exam, the final step
in certification is community service work. The varied community service
projects reflect the interests of the aspiring Master Gardeners and
allows them the opportunity to apply their knowledge beyond their own
Some have worked in highway beautification projects, identifying
plants in a local park, and at Madison in Bloom as hosts, recalls
Schneider adds that some students chose seminars or presenting school
demonstrations as their project work. Schneider himself has devoted
many hours to projects that are now enjoyed in towns. I volunteered
at the Lanier Mansion working in the flower beds, volunteered at Yell
Dew Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., planting; and my main project, helping
in the yard and gardens at Heritage Apartments, he said.
The involvement of the students in the Master Gardener program does
not end with their certification. Participants are encouraged to share
what they have learned with other hobbyists. This summer, Master Gardeners
will have the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program in
England that will include lectures and tours of world celebrated gardens.
Closer to home, Mason explains that students who participated in previous
sessions of the Jefferson County program are invited to return for classes
on special topics that were not offered as part of their earlier training.
Often times, the Master Gardeners community projects will take
on a life of their own.
For more information on the Jefferson County
Master Gardener Classes, call Extension Educator Lonnie Mason at (812)
Back to January 2010