“Extension on the Go” by Debbie Johnson. Episode 120: Master Gardener Online Training
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Do you have a green thumb and a desire to share your skill? Why not become certified as a Master Gardener.
“The motto of the Master Gardener program is ‘Helping others learn to grow,’” said David Trinklein, state horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension.
In the past, some people had to travel many miles to attend Master Gardener classes. Today, thanks to the Internet and a learning platform known as Moodle, classes are available online.
Trinklein and MU Extension regional horticulture specialist Jim Quinn put together the online Master Gardener training. “These classes aren’t a substitute for face-to-face training, but represent a viable option for people who can’t take the weekly classes,” Trinklein said.
The classes are growing in popularity. Trinklein said they launched the online training in the fall of 2013 and had six participants. Thirty people signed up in spring 2014, and 57 individuals joined the online classes that fall.
“Most of the people who take the online classes are really thankful that they have the opportunity to take the training, because some people don’t have access to the face-to-face classes,” said regional horticulture specialist Sarah Denkler, who will be teaching one section of the online class this semester.
Using Moodle, classes are delivered as a series of scripted and narrated PowerPoint presentations.
“Online, you can do the class work whenever it’s convenient for you,” Denkler said.
As you go through each segment, you’ll be tested on your understanding of various gardening subjects.
“Trainees are expected to achieve a composite score of at least 70 percent on chapter quizzes,” Trinklein said.
Subjects covered include basic botany, soils and compost, vegetable gardening, plant diseases and landscape plants.
The online classes and tests are only part of the requirement for certification. It also requires 30 hours of volunteer service, Trinklein said. Local Master Gardener chapters help online trainees find volunteer positions so they can meet the service hour requirements.
This nationwide program is an extension success story.
“There are Master Gardener programs in every state of the union and in most provinces of Canada,” Trinklein said.
The registration deadline for the online spring session is Jan. 23. Classes begin Feb. 1. The fall session starts Sept. 1. Registration deadline for the fall class is Aug. 21.
If you miss the January deadline, you don’t have to wait until the fall to sign up. Trinklein says you can register for future classes at any time.
If you feel that you are at your best with dirt under your fingernails and love to watch things grow, learn more about Master Gardener online training at http://extension.missouri.edu/MG.