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Extension’s Master Gardener classes set

OTTAWA — The University of Illinois Extension covering Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties is offering the 2013 Master Gardener Training Program at the LaSalle County Extension Office in Ottawa. The class will begin in January with the registration deadline being Dec. 15.

To register for the class, contact Paul Barrett, Master Gardener program coordinator, at the University of Illinois Extension Office located in Ottawa by calling 815-433-0707. You can request or pick up the training program application packet, which includes the application for the class and required background check information. The packets are available at the Extension offices located in Ottawa, Princeton and Henry. The completed application should be turned in to Paul Barrett at the Ottawa Extension office. After the application is reviewed, applicants will be contacted for a short interview before being accepted into the program. The cost of the class is $250, which covers Master Gardener reference books, handouts and refreshments. If you need a reasonable accommodation, please indicate when registering.

The classes will be held on Wednesdays at the LaSalle County Extension Office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes are scheduled as follows: Jan. 23 - Turfgrass, Jan. 30 - Soils, Feb. 6 - Woody Ornamentals, Feb. 13 - Landscape Principles/Ornamental Grasses, Feb. 20 - Botany, Feb. 27 - Vegetables, March 6 - IPM (integrated pest management), March 13 - Plant Pathology, March 20 - Annuals and Perennials, March 25 - (Monday) - Insects via the University of Illinois “Elluminate” system, April 3 - Fruits, and April 10 - Graduation.

Upon completion of the 60-hour Master Gardener training class, participants will be awarded a Master Gardener intern certificate. Master Gardener mentors will be assigned to acquaint new Master Gardeners with approved projects for completing volunteer hours. Interns must volunteer 60 hours the first year. Upon completion of volunteer hours, interns become a Certified Master Gardener. To maintain Certified Master Gardener status, a minimum of 10 hours continuing education and 30 hours volunteer hours are required each year. The continuing education and approved projects are provided through University of Illinois Extension. Community service projects are completed in communities across Extension’s service area.

“Participants come from all walks of life. The common interest is gardening, indoors and outside. This is a great way to connect with others who have similar interests, and it is a way to give back to your community by doing something that you enjoy,” Barrett said. “Many times we have city workers or community groups who sponsor a participant, so they can be certified to help with special projects in those towns or for the groups.”

The program is open to all interested in Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties as well as surrounding counties. Online classes are also an option, but most prefer the socialization and learning from the experts face-to-face and benefitting from the discussion, said Jill Guynn, county director. She urges those interested to sign up soon as the class is only offered locally every other year.

For more information call your local Extension office: Bureau County Extension, 850 Thompson St., Princeton, 815-875-2878; LaSalle County Extension, 1689 N. 31st. Road, Ottawa, 815-433-0707; and Marshall-Putnam Extension, 509 Front St., Henry, 309-364-2356.

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