MADISON — Adam Wigger: Master Gardeners in Wisconsin. Today we’re visiting with Amy Freidig, Extension Master Gardener Program Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, and I’m Adam Wigger. Amy what exactly is the Master Gardener Program?
Amy Freidig: The Master Gardener Program is first and foremost a volunteer program. What volunteers come to us for is they want to give back to their communities through gardening and education so adults that are interested in volunteering in their communities come to us and we train them with a research-based course that runs the gamut of horticultural topics from basic things like botany and soils to more applied topics like General gardening practices or ratios ornamental, wood ornamental, things like that. So they’ll take an exam and then they are set to go out and volunteer in their communities on various approved projects. And there are a diverse array of projects throughout the state and we hope that an individual can connect with something that they feel passionate about to work on community needs within the places that they live and work.
Adam Wigger: Absolutely. So what kind of projects might people go on to work on?
Amy Freidig: Well there are a vast array of different things. If you’re interested in community food systems you might participate in a community garden and help either actually literally growing food that is then donated to a local food pantry or you may be advising other community gardeners on best practices for in the garden. Some people prefer to work on more beautification type of projects which are actually really important for community place-making and growing vibrant communities so that can take shape in the form of you know maybe you’re pulling weeds in a park or you’re responsible for the vibrant planters in your downtown area. And some people are really interested in teaching and that can take many forms from working with already established school programs and youth in schools in that way to – you might attend master gardener volunteers led seminar at your local library on seed saving. So infused throughout everything is the idea of education, of bringing the resources of the university to the people of this state. Basically the Wisconsin Idea is what the Master Gardener Program is in real life.
Adam Wigger: Absolutely. Are there classes offered at every county office, certain county offices, what’s that deal?
Amy Freidig: Yes the program is county-based and you’ll want to check in on our Web site to see when various counties are offering training because it does vary. But yes it is run through the county offices.
Adam Wigger: Can avid gardeners apply online or stopping at their county offices?
Amy Freidig: You’d want to contact your county office but if you visit wisconsinmastergardener.org you can find more information about that. You can always contact the state office but your direct connection point will be the local offices.
Adam Wigger: Yeah. So where can people find more resources about gardening, about the Master Gardener Program?
Amy Freidig: There are quite an array of resources available. You can always visit wisconsinmastergardener.org to find out specific information about the Wisconsin Master Gardener Program and you can visit Extension’s Web sites to find out specific plant related or horticultural topics including pest and disease information.
Adam Wigger: So how many people do you think get involved with Master Gardener Program and volunteer with us?
Amy Freidig: We have over 3000 volunteers currently statewide and there are 72 counties in Wisconsin and the vast majority have active master gardeners.
Adam Wigger: Amazing. Is there anything coming up in the next couple of months that you’d want to share – any special events, any special things like?
Amy Freidig: Everything is pretty Master Gardener volunteer centric. I would encourage people who you know you don’t have to be a good gardener to be a master gardener volunteer so people that care that people that enjoy and love plants. People that want to give back should consider this as part of their volunteer life when the time is right for them, and I would encourage those types of folks who are able and willing to look into various trainings because they are again county specific and you’ll want to check to see when they are holding training if that’s something that you would be interested in pursuing and get in there, get on the list early.
Adam Wigger: Is there any other information you want to get out there about the Master Gardener Program?
Amy Freidig: I think the Master Gardener Program is a unique opportunity for people of all ages to be the Wisconsin Idea in action and I would encourage people of all ages to consider it. And even if now you don’t have all the time in the world to devote to something like this keep it in the back of your head for maybe when the time is right in your life to participate in volunteer activities because it’s a really unique way to be an ambassador of the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension and to help be a part of creating positive community change.
Adam Wigger: Absolutely, amazing. Thanks Amy. We’ve been visiting today with Amy Fredig, Extension Master Gardener Program Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, and I’m Adam Wigger.
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