WHAT IS AN ALASKA MASTER GARDENER?
Alaska Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. They assist the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in educating the public on horticulture and the unique Alaskan growing environment. These volunteers have completed 40 hours of horticultural training and have also completed 40 hours of approved volunteer work. Alaska Master Gardeners enjoy gardening of any type, possess an enthusiasm for learning, and have a desire to share their knowledge and experience with others in their communities.
WHAT IS THE ALASKA MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM?
The program consists of 40 hours of classroom training on topics such as botany, entomology, fruit/vegetable/flower gardening, lawn care, organic & conventional gardening techniques, invasive pest management, plant pathology, soils and fertilizers, tree and shrub care, and the unique gardening conditions of the Alaskan climate. After completing the classroom portion, trainees must then complete 40 hours of volunteer time to become a fully accredited Alaska Master Gardener and receive their certificate. More information on the state-wide program can be found here.
MAT-SU DISTRICT MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM/CLASSES
Master Gardener classes in the Mat-Su Valley are usually taught in the fall, during evening hours one night a week from mid-September through early December. Those interested in attending the Fall 2014 Class, can sign up on our Master Gardener Interest List. Those on the interest list will receive an early invitation to register for the next class.
The 2014 Registration Fee is $300 with $150 to be refunded upon completion of 40 hours of volunteer service (which must be completed within one year to be eligible for the refund). Each student receives a Sustainable Gardening Manual and handouts throughout the course which are theirs to keep.
OTHER SOURCES OF ALASKA MASTER GARDENER TRAINING.
If you are interested in taking the Master Gardener Course at another location, you can find contact information here for other areas.
The course is also taught online. Information about the online course can be found at the Alaska Master Gardener Online website.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE THERE FOR VOLUNTEERING?
Following are a list of some example activities which can be used to get credit towards your 40 hours of volunteer work. Contact our extension agent, if you have an idea for a different activity or need help finding an activity to volunteer at.
· working in information booths at community events
· maintaining demonstration gardens
· teaching horticulture to beginning gardeners and other audiences
· working with groups such as 4-H, schools, and community gardens
· working at the Alaska State Fair Cooperative Extension booth
· volunteer with your local Master Gardener club
MAT-SU MASTER GARDENERS CLUB
In the Mat-Su Valley area, the Mat-Su Master Gardener (MMG) Club is the hub of the Alaska Master Gardener community. The MMG Club hosts monthly educational meetings and summer field trips. They also host booths at many community events which are excellent opportunities to earn credit towards volunteer hours. The group sponsors their own website, monthly newsletter and volunteer projects. They also hold the annual Mat-Su Master Gardeners plant sale held the weekend following the Memorial Day holiday at the Palmer Plaza. You do not have to be a member to attend meetings or download their monthly newsletter. Member dues are $10 - $12 annually. Check out their website for a schedule of events, information on joining and other gardening information.