By Alyssa Schnugg
There’s no better time to celebrate National Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Week than during the first week of spring.
Master Gardeners are expert volunteers trained and certified in consumer horticulture and related areas by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Their work is celebrated during this first week of spring, from March 20 through March 26.
The volunteer work of Master Gardeners helps the local Extension office reach a broader audience than is possible with existing Extension agents. Volunteers help extend the educational arm of the university to the public by providing horticultural information based on university research and recommendations.
Master Gardener volunteers experience the personal satisfaction of serving their community, gaining horticultural expertise and connecting with their local gardening community.
The Lafayette County Master Gardener Association meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of the month, unless it falls on a holiday. The group meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Extension Office on Buddy East Parkway.
“While visitors are encouraged to attend our educational meetings and lectures, the business meetings are also open to the public,” said Dianne Fergusson with the LCMGA. “All of our education programs (at least eight yearly) are open to the public, and we try to publicize them well in advance.”
The Master Gardener program trains volunteers in consumer horticulture and related areas. It’s a great way to gain horticulture expertise at a low cost, meet other avid gardeners, share gardening experiences, get connected to the community, and belong to a well-respected educational organization, according to the LCMGA website.
The LCMGA organizes a spring gardening lecture series of three to four lectures in the month of April and a Saturday morning lecture program in October.
Other programs and projects include doing home landscape consultations, farmers’ market consultations, keeping the grounds of the Cedar Oaks mansion pristine, and installing memorial gardens like the Veteran’s Garden across from the Mississippi State Veteran’s Home in Oxford. They volunteer in the city’s Adopt-a-Street program picking up litter once a month on South Lamar. The volunteers help provide landscape maintenance to the grounds of the Pantry and the Child Abuse Prevention Center.
To become a Master Gardener, volunteers must take a 40-hour class online that is offered through the Extension Program at Mississippi State University. Then they must complete 40 hours of volunteer service within a year of completing the course.
Registration for the 2023 Master Gardener Class starting in the fall is open. Interested parties should call 662-234-4451 to get their name on the list. The class costs $125.
For more information about the LCMGA, follow them on Facebook (Lafayette County Master Gardeners), Instagram (@lafcomga) or visit their website at http://www.lcmga.org.
Questions can also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.