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Blackwelder column: Master Gardener classes start in January

SALISBURY — Cooperative Extension is now accepting applications for the 2012 Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Those who want to learn more about gardening and have the desire to volunteer may want to consider being a Rowan County Master Gardener Volunteer. Volunteering hours to the organization is a mandatory part of the program; however, the benefit of learning about horticulture greatly outweighs the volunteer commitment.
The program consists of approximately 45 hours of classroom instruction on varied aspects of urban and commercial horticulture. The 2012 Master Gardener course outline includes plant growth and development, basic soils and fertilizers, entomology (insects and their control), plant diseases and control, cool season lawn establishment and maintenance, vegetable production, home fruit production, urban pest management (animal control), landscape design and maintenance and local foods (farmers markets).
Computer skills and use are required for those who participate in the 2012 class. Classroom instruction at the Agricultural Center in Salisbury may be augmented with field trips to local nurseries, public gardens or commercial farming operations, weather and time permitting.
There is no tuition for the course, but there is an initial fee for printing costs and materials used in class. All applicants must consent to a background check. Participants in the program must volunteer 45 hours of service back to the Cooperative Extension horticulture program as payment for the instruction.
Volunteer hours for the class of 2012 will focus on educational programs, including the following: outdoor gardening demonstrations, Extension Pocket Garden Project at the Agriculture Center, classroom instruction in the Rowan-Salisbury School System and private schools, contributing to garden columns and radio programs.
The program consists of 14 classes scheduled to meet on Wednesday afternoons, beginning Jan. 18, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Outdoor laboratories and field trips may be a part of the learning exercises recommended for the course.
Applications for the Rowan County Master Gardener Volunteer spring program are due in the extension office by 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. The official Master Gardener Volunteer application and other pertinent information about the program can be downloaded from the Cooperative Extension website: http://rowan extension. com or Master Gardener Volunteer site at www. rowanmastergardener.com or on Facebook. There will be an informational meeting in early January for those who have questions about the Master Gardener Volunteer Program in Rowan County.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970 Facebook or online at www.rowanextension.com

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