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Interested in becoming a master gardener? Here's how

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Do you have a love for spending long hours planting and tending to your backyard garden? Do you have a knack for teaching and enjoy learning and sharing you knowledge with others?

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If gardening is your passion, and you would like to be part of a team that contributes to keeping Minnesota communities educated and beautiful, consider becoming a University of Minnesota Extension master gardener.

There are nearly 100,000 volunteer master gardeners nationwide. Each year, they reach about 5 million people and are a valuable source to many schools, communities, youth programs and farmers markets.

They teach classes and workshops, answer telephone inquiries concerning home horticulture, guide planting and educational demonstrations in community and school gardens, represent the program at the county and state fair, and work with many community organizations to convey up-to-date, research-based gardening information.

To become a master gardener, you must apply and be accepted into your local county Extension program. Upon acceptance in your country, you then take the Master Gardener Core Course. After completing the core course, master gardeners are required to volunteer 50 hours the first year and 25 hours each year thereafter. Active volunteers are also asked to participate in five to 12 hours of continuing education per year, depending on the county in which they volunteer.

The deadline application in 2012 is September 1. Submitted applications will be reviewed and interviews will be set up. Upon completion of an application and interview, applicants may register for the Master Gardener Core Course. Deadline for registration into the core course is October 1.

The Master Gardener Core Course for 2013 will be offered online from January 7 to May 3, and in person at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum January 11 to February 2 on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you are interested in becoming a Douglas County master gardener, contact Douglas County Extension at (320) 762-3890 or stop by and see us in the Douglas County Service Center Building at 720 Fillmore Street in Alexandria.

For other counties, contact that local Extension office.

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