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Want to be Master Gardener? Here’s your shot

Courtesy WSU Master Gardeners Volunteers host a plant exchange for the WSU Master Gardeners.
Courtesy WSU Master Gardeners Volunteers host a plant exchange for the WSU Master Gardeners.

The first WSU Master Gardener class was conducted in 1973. At that time, no one realized the idea of training volunteers, to provide other community members with research-based solutions to gardening questions, would spread to all 50 states and many other countries. Ralph Selch, an emeritus Master Gardener from Ocosta, transferred to the local WSU program after many years of service training volunteers in Arizona. There are now 95,000 master gardeners nationwide.

The next WSU training course for Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties starts in January 2014. A series of informational presentations is planned in September and October in various geographic locations to provide details and answer questions. Paul Cox will be discussing his experience as a master gardener and training director.

Jamie Quigg, a master gardener from Aberdeen, who trained in 2012, was attracted to the program saying, “I had a brown thumb and wanted a green one.” After a busy intern year, Jamie is paying forward through active involvement in the 2014 training program, drawing upon her college background in entomology (study of insects), as well as her WSU training.

Gerry Furnia, a master gardener since 2008, commented on the value she has found through her association, “By joining Master Gardeners I met and learned from members who had expertise in many related fields…botany, landscaping, native plants and so on. The fellowship experienced with other gardeners who have such diverse strengths and interests is wonderful. It is a good feeling to be able to help the community by volunteering on such projects as plant clinics, the garden tour, the county fair, and the Home and Garden Show.”

The training itself is rigorous and broad in scope. You will watch WSU developed lectures on your computer at home, completing web based exercises and testing on your own. The material is reemphasized in hands in training roughly every other Saturday from late January to early June. The training focus is on learning to research, not memorization.

After completion of training, the WSU Master Gardener Interns must participate in 60 hours of supervised activity, including volunteer work in different program areas. For example, Deb Cannon, a 2012 trainee from Westport, participated in plant clinics, provided support at public functions including the demonstration garden at the county fair, the annual garden tour, and the Know and Grow Community Fair in Raymond, developed and presented a public presentation “What to do in your Garden in July” and is now working behind the scenes to support next year’s training.

To maintain a Master Gardener certification, volunteers commit annually to 25 hours of community service and 10 hours of continuing education. The strong emphasis on continuing education ensures volunteers stay up to date with current recommendations and expand their knowledge base. The WSU Master Gardeners of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties work in coordination with WSU personnel and the educational and ethical guidelines of the University.

If you are interested in gardening, want to meet people across the region as well as your own backyard, and enjoy community service, this may be for you. If you are interested but unable to attend, please email contact information, including mailing address to

Cannon is a WSU Master Gardener from the Westport area. She trained in the 2012 class and am volunteering as a liaison for new recruits for the 2014 training session.

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