Registration for Master Gardener Statewide Fall Courses Open

Published 5:02 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

By Katie Nichols, Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems

Community members who want to take gardening to the next level,  love volunteering, and are passionate about their community need wait no longer to become an Alabama Cooperative Extension System Master Gardener (MG). Registration for the next MG fall course started June 1.

The Alabama Extension MG program is familiar to many Alabama residents. However, the program’s delivery methods have recently changed, making attendance and participation easier for those wishing to participate. Emily Bornstein, the Alabama Extension MG program administrator, said the statewide schedule allows individuals from across the state to learn and grow together.

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“We have worked hard to make the statewide course schedule something that appeals to all of our MG interns,” Bornstein said. “Encouraging all of our counties to hold classes at the same time brings strength and depth of service. We are looking forward to the fall course and hope to have many Alabama residents join us as Alabama Extension MG volunteers.”

Registration for the Alabama Extension MG fall course opens June 1 and those who are interested need to register online to begin the application process. Registrants will receive an email with instructions for completing the remainder of the process. Applications will be accepted through June 30.

The courses begin Aug. 10 and wrap up Nov. 9. A comprehensive list of counties facilitating a fall MG course is available at www.aces.edu/go/MGFallCourses. Attendees do not have to complete a MG course in their county of residence but should note that travel will be required for any MG course completion.

To become a certified MG volunteer, interns must earn an Extension Master Gardener Course Certificate and complete a minimum of 50 Extension volunteer hours within a 12-month period. Visit the Become an Alabama Extension Master Gardener Volunteer web page at www.aces.edu to read the full course schedule and find additional information about the application and acceptance process.

The concept of the Master Gardener volunteer program began at Washington State University. In Alabama, it began in 1981 with Gary Murray, an Extension agent, and Mary Lou McNabb, a Cornell Extension Master Gardener, who moved to Huntsville.

The MG program represents an effective partnership between the land grant universities of Alabama, Alabama Extension agents and motivated volunteers. To that end, volunteers have opportunities to work with Extension programs; federal, state and county agencies, and local schools and organizations. Many communities benefit from MG beautification projects and volunteers. MG volunteers also devote lots of time and effort to local schools and students.

Persons not interested in volunteering, unable to travel, or those interested in research-based gardening can register for the Alabama Extension horticulture training course as a Garden-U participant and receive a certificate upon completion of the training. Note that because there is no volunteer commitment, Garden-U participants do not become Alabama Master Gardeners. Learn more about Garden-U at www.aces.edu