Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Durham County Master Gardeners Graduate this Week!

A new class of certified, NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) graduated Monday, April 22. Among the 27 students, the Durham Council of Garden Clubs was represented by Treasurer and Publicity Chair Jennifer C.  The prestigious, statewide program: was organized and facilitated by Durham County Extension Agent Michelle Wallace.

DCGC Treasurer and Publicity Chair Jennifer C. stands
proudly with her EMG certificate next to Program Leader
 and Durham County Extension Agent Michelle Wallace

The 2013 Durham County EMG program featured a rigorous, 15-week curriculum of college-level courses led by guest lecturers from the North Carolina University System in topics ranging from botany, plant pathology, entomology to integrated pest management (IPM) and water management. Students were given weekly quizzes and submitted two projects; one project being a short, evidenced-based presentation or article on a chosen horticultural topic, the other project a detailed research paper of the student’s own home landscape complete with charted solar paths, plat of property with every plant species identified and labeled, calendars for pest management calendar and plant maintenance, soil tests, and thorough research of numerous other physical considerations unique to their property.

The Extension Master Gardeners now number nine members in the Durham Council, and the rewards of being and EMG are purely for the passionate of gardening hearts.  The opportunities for volunteer services are wide. Examples include:

·        Diagnose plant, insect, and disease problems though the Extension Office and its consumer horticulture phone line
·        Staff plant clinics at the local Farmer’s Markets and educational exhibits
·        Provide support for demonstration or community gardens such as Extension’s  Briggs Avenue Community Garden in Durham
·        Lecture on various gardening topics through the Speakers Bureau
·        Bring the joy of gardening through lectures to area community groups, Sarah P. Duke Gardens Extension Gardener  Seminars, and the Durham Public Libraries Extension Gardener Seminars
·        Assist with horticulture related events (fair, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Field days)
·        Provide leadership to Extension Master Gardener projects and events
·        Help with university lead research  
·        Provide artistic support (Photography, Graphic Design)
·        Solicit funding and in-kind support for the program

Also notable, Durham County Extension Master Gardeners also began working with Cooperative Extension educators to train elementary school teachers to deliver hands-on science lessons that connect the students to the world of soils and plants.

Although they come in many shapes, sizes, demographics, etc., Master Gardeners are known for their feisty, dry wit and “get to it” work ethic. Here are a few of the common traits as reflected by individual MGs:
You Know You’re a Master Gardener when…
  • You grab other people's banana peels, coffee grinds, apple cores, etc. for your compost pile

  • Your neighbors think nothing of traipsing over the property line to ask you questions about their tomato plants 

  • You enjoy crushing Japanese beetles because you like the sound that it makes

  • You spend more time volunteering than at home, and your spouse rarely knows where you may be on any given day 

  • You arrange your monthly schedule around including some MG hours to get your 40 for the year

  • You buy a bigger truck so that you can haul more mulch 

  • You've given up trying to get the dirt out from underneath your fingernails

  • Your boss makes "taking care of the office plants" an official part of your job description

  • Your non-gardening spouse becomes conversant in Latin botanical names

  • You find yourself feeling all leaves, flowers and the trunks of trees wherever you go, even at funerals

  • You dumpster-dive for discarded bulbs after the commercial landscapers remove them in order to plant annuals

  • You plan vacation trips around the locations of botanical gardens, arboreta, historic gardens, etc.

  • Your neighbors mostly recognize you in pajamas, rubber clogs and holding a cup of coffee

  • When considering your budget, plants are more important than groceries

  • After purchasing $300 worth of plants, you enter “Harris Teeter” in your checkbook register

  • You always carry a shovel and a plastic bag in your trunk as emergency tools

  • You appreciate your Master Gardener badge more than your jewelry

  • You talk "dirt" at baseball practice and relish opportunities to “get dirty” with other like-minded gardening individuals. 

  • You spend more time chopping your kitchen greens for the compost pile than for cooking dinner

  • You like the smell of cow and horse manure better than Chanel No. 5

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