LEESPORT, Pa. — Penn State Extension will be training new Master Gardeners in Berks County in the fall of 2021. Applications are currently being accepted for the training course that will run October 7, 2021, through March 24, 2022. Interested residents should contact Penn State Extension for details of the application procedure.
Who should apply? Any adult resident in Berks County who has a keen interest in gardening, volunteering, and educating others within their community should consider applying. Master Gardeners receive extensive training to equip them with the knowledge and resources of Penn State University’s College of Agriculture to then share that information through educational programs for the public. Candidates are trained as horticultural educators and must have good interpersonal skills as well as a strong interest in gardening.
Master Gardener candidates are trained by Penn State staff in a wide range of horticultural topics, with a two-hour lecture each week and an additional fifteen minutes of updates and reviews. Topics covered include botany, plant propagation, insects and diseases, plant identification, diagnostics, and much more. Following their training, Master Gardener trainees are required to contribute 50 hours of volunteer work to Master Gardener projects to complete their certification. In subsequent years, Master Gardeners must contribute 20 volunteer hours plus 10 hours of advanced education annually to maintain their Master Gardener status.
The upcoming training sessions will be a combination of online live lectures and in-person class engagement. Live online sessions will be offered on Thursday evenings, 6:00 p.m. until 8:15 p.m., from October 7, 2021, through March 24, 2022. The course will include approximately monthly in-person activities October through March and one Saturday field day session in June or July, 2022. There is a $200 fee for the course, which includes a copy of the nationally acclaimed Penn State Master Gardener Manual and other training resources. Financial support is available to individuals where this fee is cost prohibitive to their participation in the program. No financial documentation required.
Class size is limited. Selection is based on specific skills needed to support current projects and program growth and on achieving a mix of trainees who can cover the program’s varied missions. The application process includes an interview which will help both the Master Gardener program team and the applicant determine if the program expectations are a good fit for the applicant.
To learn more about the Berks County program, we are hosting two Master Gardener Information Sessions for potential candidates to explore the program and ask questions before applying. These are being offered virtually on Thursday, July 22, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Monday, July 26, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Both sessions will be held online via Zoom. Please register (https://extension.psu.edu/master-gardener-training-information-for-berks-county) for an information session to receive the online meeting link to attend. To go ahead and submit your application, please visit our website: https://extension.psu.edu/programs/master-gardener/counties/berks/become-a-master-gardener-in-berks-county
For more information or to request a hardcopy application, contact Natalie Marioni at Penn State Extension, 610-378-1327, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 610-378-1327 in advance of your participation or visit.
–Natalie Marioni, Penn State Extension