Are you a Whidbey or Camano Island gardener? Do you enjoy learning and sharing your knowledge with others? Maybe you have just moved to the area and want to get involved in the community and learn about gardening in the Puget Sound? Then the WSU Extension Island County Master Gardener Volunteer program may be just what you are looking for!
The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to work in partnership with WSU Extension to teach research-based gardening and environmental stewardship practices to county residents, while at the same time learning and having fun working with other like-minded volunteers.
Who Should Apply?
The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is open to all. Successful applicants have an enthusiasm for volunteer work, enjoy talking to people about gardening, and are life-long learners. You do not need extensive horticulture knowledge to be accepted into the class, just a passion for learning about gardening and sharing this knowledge with others.
What Does the Training Involve?
(Fall 2021 update: All Trainees and WSU Extension Volunteers are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. Our intention is to meet in-person. Masks may be required when training starts. Subject to change.)
Upon acceptance, Master Gardener Volunteer training begins with a 12-week course that combines lectures, group discussion, weekly assignments, and online study. Classes meet on Saturdays from 9:00 – 12:30. Trainees are expected to attend all class sessions.
Training focuses on familiarization with and learning how to use research-based resources to find and answer horticulture questions for the general public in a collaborative environment.
Topics covered include basic botany, soils, sustainable garden management, integrated pest management, pesticide safety, entomology, plant pathology, plant disease diagnosis and control, vegetables, native plants, weeds and invasive plants, tree fruit and small fruit production.
Participants are expected to come prepared for class by reading the weekly assignments, watching online presentations and completing quizzes. All quizzes and exams are open book and can be re-taken. No memorization is required. The in-class time will feature guest speakers, hands-on activities, field trips and learning about Master Gardener program activities.
Access to the coursework is by computer so internet access and an email address are required. The primary mode of communication outside of the classroom is via email. The cost for training is $350 plus $14 for a background check that is good for two years.
After successful completion of the training, Master Gardener Interns volunteer 60 hours of community service in the following year to earn the title of Master Gardener. Volunteer activities include working alongside Veteran Master Gardeners at plant clinics, our Demonstration Garden, School gardens, our annual plant sale, Whidbey Gardening Workshop, and other projects as directed by the program coordinator. Mentors from the Island County Master Gardener Foundation are assigned to each new intern to answer questions and help complete the internship requirements.
Master Gardeners are re-certified each year by volunteering a minimum of 25 hours in Island County Master Gardener activities and taking 10 hours of continuing education classes.
Many Master Gardeners choose to join the Island County Master Gardener Foundation. This free membership group helps to support the program with monthly educational lectures, social gatherings, an annual plant sale, the very popular Whidbey Gardening Workshop, and much more. Their financial support contributes to the success of the Master Gardener program and helps fund many gardening-related projects in Island County.
Being a Master Gardener volunteer is a great way to gain horticultural knowledge, meet other gardeners, share gardening experiences, connect with the community and belong to a well-respected and educational organization. We hope you will join us!
Apply to become a Master Gardener in 2022
For more information on applying for volunteer training in 2022, please contact the Master Gardener Program Coordinator by email or call Loren Imes at 360-639-6059.