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UC Cooperative Extension Offers Local Master Gardener Program

Program focuses on training volunteers for the community, and to learn current horticultural research

Want to hone your skills in the garden or increase your overall knowledge of plants in general? Then the University of California Cooperative Extension program’s Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County’s 2000-10 training program may be for you.

Gardening is the number one hobby in the United States and there is a great need for trained volunteers to provide current and accurate research-based horticultural information to home gardeners and horticultural professionals.

Those with a desire to expand their knowledge in this field, as well as enthusiasm for sharing their horticultural expertise with the community as a volunteer, are invited to participate.

A mandatory orientation will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Public Health Department auditorium, 300 San Antonio Road in Santa Barbara.

The classes will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays from Oct. 15 through March 18, 2010, excluding Nov. 25, Dec. 24 and 31 and Jan. 7.

Master Gardener volunteers serve the community by responding to the growing needs of home gardeners for accurate and current horticultural information. Master Gardener trainees participate in a comprehensive program, and upon completion of their training, receive a volunteer certificate.

The Master Gardener programs occur in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. In California, the Master Gardener program is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension. In Santa Barbara County, the program is co-sponsored and jointly administered by a cooperative agreement between UCCE and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Following a required orientation, an interview and acceptance into the program, trainees attend 80 hours of classes that teach the most current, accepted practices in horticulture. Classes are taught by Botanic Garden staff, UCCE agricultural advisors and extension specialists, agricultural commissioner’s office staff and other community experts.

Each Master Gardener trainee agrees to serve at least 80 hours as a volunteer during the training year.  It is expected that volunteers commit to at least two subsequent years of volunteer service. To retain Master Gardener status after graduation one must serve a minimum of 40 hours annually through participating in approved volunteer activities, attending supplemental trainings and attending monthly meetings.

Volunteer opportunities for Master Gardeners include working on the Master Gardener helpline; volunteer work for the UCCE; community events such as Earth Day, the Sustainability Fair and others; volunteer work in school gardens or in local public gardens, including the Santa Barbara Mission; and volunteer work at the Botanic Garden and other local gardens.

Class topics will include an introduction to the master gardener program, essentials of botany and horticulture, soils and fertilizers, plant propagation techniques, irrigation, insects, plant pathology, integrated pest management, vegetables, fruit trees, weeds and turf, tree care, California natives for the garden, sustainable landscaping, school gardens and the basis of landscape design.

Class space is limited, so organizers urge those interested to call for an application packet ASAP. For more information, or to request a packet, call or e-mail Michael Marzolla, master gardener and 4-H youth development advisor, at 805.692.1735, or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or Sally Isaacson, director of education and master gardener adviser, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 805.682.4726 x 111 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For more information, visit the following Web sites:

» UCCE Web site,

» Santa Barbara County 4-H:

» Agua Pura Pescadores Salmon & Steelhead Curriculum:

» GreenNet Webpage: and

» CASEC Webpage:

» Experiential Learning Resources site:

» Santa Barbara Master Gardeners: Master Gardener
Also available is a free home gardening helpline, staffed from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Call 805.682.4726, Extension 117; fax 805.692.1731; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Michael Marzolla is a 4-H youth development and master gardener adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Santa Barbara County and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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