I have been a Master Gardener for a very long time now.
I have enjoyed working with so many people who are Master Gardeners, gardeners, gardening professionals as well as learning and working with the U of M Extension office and their Extension educators. The U of M Extension service has a great gardening tool that we can all use besides working with the local Master Gardeners. On the website, www.extension.umn.edu/garden, you can find all sorts of gardening information.
This past week, the U of M checked on how many "hits" the different pages had on the website to see how they were being used. The site called What's Wrong with my Plant had more than 21,000 hits, Is this Plant a Weed? had more than 13,000 hits and What Insect is this? had more than 8,000 hits this past year (2011).
U of M Extension Master Gardener program contributions for the state in 2011 totaled over 131,000 hours.
The Lyon County Master Gardener program had over 2,000 hours total in 2011. So what does the average Master Gardener spend their time volunteering for?
The biggest part of volunteering our time toward the public, according to the U of M, is information booths such as farmers markets, diagnostic clinics and fair booths.
The close second involves special events such as tours, trade shows, horticulture days, Habitat for Humanity. The third biggest volunteer time spent as a Master Gardener has been teaching classes and workshops through community education, schools and horticulture days. The state of Minnesota Master Gardeners are teaching more than 25,000 hours a year in Minnesota.
But this it not the whole picture. Master Gardeners also spend time on horticulture hotlines, in mass communications, partnerships (Tree Care Advisers, Gopher Adventures), special county projects (display gardens, for example), and U of M research projects. There are just a little over 2,000 Master Gardeners throughout the state volunteering their time to the public.
In Lyon County, we currently have nine active Master Gardeners. We do pretty much the same things as what the state says other Master Gardeners are doing each year.
The Lyon County Master Gardeners can be reached by calling the Lyon County Extension office at (507) 532-8219. The extension office has a list of all of the Lyon County Master Gardeners and the areas of expertise that we have listed. They will direct phone calls toward the right Master Gardener according to your question. The Lyon County Master Gardeners are also volunteering their time in having a Garden Party this Saturday at the Marshall Area Adult Center (Senior Center) located on 4th Street in Marshall. The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. with registration.
This year we were very happy to be able to schedule Dr. John Ball from SDSU. After last summer's storm, many of us are working to rebuild our groves and trees in our yard.
Dr. Ball is a licensed arborist and also professor of Forestry at SDSU in Brookings, S.D.
He has a vast knowledge of trees and his presentation will surround choosing new varieties of trees for southwestern Minnesota. This is particularly important with the problems surrounding Emerald Ash borer. We want to diversify our local tree populations. He has a list of trees for just such a project.
There will also be talks by our Master Gardeners in Lyon County on a variety of other topics. The cost is $6 per person for a great day of learning and fun!
For more information regarding gardening, you can reach me at Stephanie@starpoint.net