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New Mexico State University

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NMSU Extension Master Gardener Class Scheduled for Sept. 5

LAS CRUCES - Area gardeners interested in improving their skills and giving back to the community can sign up for a special master gardener training program beginning Sept. 5.



Master Gardener Rosemary Maddox discusses ways to improve sunflower growth with John White, Doņa Ana County horticulture agent. For those who want to boost their horticulture skills and serve the community, New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service will hold a 13-week series of Master Gardener classes starting Sept. 5. (08/23/2002) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

Thousands of New Mexicans have participated in the Master Gardener Program, directed by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. The volunteers assist county Extension agents in educating the public and answering gardening questions.

Graduates of the program, which began in Bernalillo County in 1981, are seeded among 11 counties: Doņa Ana, San Juan, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Sandoval, Valencia, Otero, Lea, Taos and Chaves.

Doņa Ana County's 13-week session meets Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Doņa Ana County Extension office at 808 N. Alameda in Las Cruces. Deadline for registration for the class is Aug. 30. The following week the applications will be reviewed and class participants selected. There is a $75 fee and class size is limited to 25.

"An application must be filled out ahead of time because we're looking for previous volunteer program experience, in addition to a knowledge of horticulture or gardening," said John White, Doņa Ana County horticulture agent.

The weekly sessions focus on basic soil and plant science, followed by homeowner-level reviews of weed, insect and disease control. Course topics will include both vegetables and plants, as well as trees, lawns and herbs.

"We want to give participants a fairly broad knowledge of horticulture and an introduction into the latest research information," said White, who has served as southern New Mexico host of "Southwest Yard and Garden," a half-hour weekly program airing on New Mexico's public television stations.

To date, more than 2,000 New Mexicans have been certified as Extension master gardeners, with about 200 actively working with Extension offices, he said.

In most counties, the master gardeners, who agree to volunteer for a minimum of 50 hours annually, manage local gardening hotlines and run information booths at farmer's markets and other public sites. They also give special lectures on gardening issues, teach courses and even make home visits to answer questions and analyze problems when Extension agents are unavailable.

If you want additional information or are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please call White at (505) 525-6649 in advance.