Garden Variety: Master Gardeners accepting applications

The Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners are currently accepting applications for training for new members. Applicants should be interested in community service and education in addition to gardening as the organization’s mission is to provide research-based gardening information to help Douglas County residents.

The 2017 new member training is on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m. from Aug. 22 through Oct. 24, with additional long training days on Saturday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Oct. 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Applicants must be able to attend all sessions to complete the training. Classes cover plant growth and culture, soil science, plant pathology, entomology, and other gardening-related topics.

After completion of the training, Master Gardener trainees must complete 40 hours of volunteer service in organizational activities. Current activities of the Douglas County Master Gardener group include manning a horticulture helpline where area residents can submit garden questions, distributing gardening information at the Saturday Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market and other community events, maintaining demonstration gardens, coordinating Junior Master Gardener programs at several local elementary schools, collecting excess/donated produce and delivering it to the food bank, providing a speaker’s bureau, and organizing educational events such as the Garden Tour and Spring Garden Fair.

Once the training and 40 hours of volunteer service are complete, participants are officially Master Gardeners.

To maintain status as a Master Gardener, program participants must contribute a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service in organizational activities each year. They are also required to continue learning and complete 10 hours of additional training each year. The organization offers monthly 1- to 2-hour free training sessions to its members to help them meet the continuing education requirements.

Interested parties can find the application and more information at K-State Research and Extension, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence, or at

The basic training course includes a fee of $125 to cover a textbook, training materials, etc., associated with the program. There are no annual dues for the program or other fees associated with participation.

K-State Research and Extension sponsors Master Gardener programs in Kansas. Extension is the name of the outreach arm mandated for land-grant universities such as Kansas State University. Also under the Extension umbrella are 4-H and a number of programs centered on agriculture, food, family and community development.

There are active Master Gardener programs in all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces. These volunteers give back more than 5 million hours of service each year to their respective communities.