Master Gardener applications open

Penn State Extension will be training new Master Gardeners in Berks County this fall.

Applications are being accepted for the training course that will run Oct. 7 through March 24, 2022. Interested residents should contact Penn State Extension for details of the application procedure.

Who should apply? Any adult resident in Berks who has a keen interest in gardening, volunteering and educating others within their community.

Master Gardeners receive extensive training to equip them with the knowledge and resources of Penn State University’s College of Agriculture to then share that information through educational programs for the public.

Candidates are trained as horticultural educators and must have good interpersonal skills as well as a strong interest in gardening.

Master Gardener candidates are trained by Penn State staff in a wide range of horticultural topics, with a two-hour lecture each week and an additional 15 minutes of updates and reviews.

Topics covered include botany, plant propagation, insects and diseases, plant identification and diagnostics. Following their training, Master Gardener trainees are required to contribute 50 hours of volunteer work to Master Gardener projects to complete their certification.

After receiving certification, Master Gardeners must contribute 20 volunteer hours plus 10 hours of advanced education annually to maintain their Master Gardener status.

The upcoming training sessions will be a combination of online live lectures and in-person class engagement. Live online sessions will be offered on Thursday from 6 to 8:15 p.m., from Oct. 7 through March 24, 2022. The course will include approximately monthly in-person activities October through March and one Saturday field day session in June or July 2022.

There is a $200 fee for the course, which includes a copy of the nationally acclaimed Penn State Master Gardener Manual and other training resources. Financial support is available if the cost prohibits someone from participating. No financial documentation required.

Class size is limited. Selection is based on specific skills needed to support current projects and program growth and on achieving a mix of trainees who can cover the program’s varied missions.

The application process includes an interview, which will help the Master Gardener program team and the applicant determine if the program expectations are a good fit for the applicant.

To learn more about the Berks program, there will be two Master Gardener information sessions for potential candidates to explore the program and ask questions before applying. These are being offered virtually July 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and July 26 from 7 to 8 p.m. Both sessions will be held online via Zoom. Please register (https://extension.psu.edu/master-gardener-training-information-for-berks-county) for an information session to receive the online meeting link to attend.

To submit an application, go to https://extension.psu.edu/programs/master-gardener/counties/berks/become-a-master-gardener-in-berks-county

For more information or to request a hardcopy application, contact Natalie Marioni at Penn State Extension, 610-378-1327 at email at nkm5342@psu.edu.

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