If you have interests in gardening and volunteering, there is one organization for you: Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners. There are 20 positions open now to become a Master Gardener in 2008.
Gardeners know the joy of planting a seed and watching it grow. I think they also know that when they share their knowledge it grows and becomes something much bigger than you or I can create alone. I have never met a group of people who so enjoyed what they do for the community.
Above all, Master Gardeners are friends and neighbors. They are men and women of all ages who enjoy sharing their knowledge and helping to educate others. Some of them work full-time jobs in addition to volunteering and learning through the program; others are retired or have more flexible careers.
The Extension Master Gardener program has volunteer opportunities that will fit with any skill set or physical ability. After training, you can pick which activities best meet your needs. A rotating group of Master Gardeners answers questions at an information booth at the Downtown Lawrence Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. Other volunteers answer calls to the Horticulture Hotline (843-7058) from April to October. At bigger events such as the Garden Tour, volunteers work together to organize and coordinate the entire affair. There are plant sales, field trips and opportunities to partner with other volunteers in the community.
Master Gardeners also plan and maintain the demonstration gardens near the Extension office. A few volunteers are on a list to give educational talks to those who request them. Master Gardeners who enjoy working with the younger generation coordinate a Junior Master Gardener program and provide youth education opportunities at other events. There really is something in the program for everyone.
In exchange for all of these volunteer hours, Kansas State University provides reliable, research-based education. Extension Master Gardeners and the university work hand in hand to disseminate that information to the public. There are Master Gardener Volunteer Programs in all 50 states and Canada.
Training will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Feb. 19April 22, with an hour break for lunch. Graduation for new Extension Master Gardeners will be April 29.
Sessions will be at the Douglas County Extension Office, on the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.
Applications to join the program are due Dec. 1. Call the Extension Office at 843-7058 to request the application and more information. You also can visit www.oznet.ksu/douglas.