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The Garden Scoop

Give the Gift of Gardening- 2016 Master Gardener Training Classes

Are you searching for a unique gift? Do you know someone who would rather be outside in their garden than anywhere else? The University of Illinois Extension Office in Vermilion County will be holding Master Gardener Training Classes starting in January 2016. Master Gardeners are volunteers who have a love of gardening and a passion to share it with others, but despite the title, they don't claim to know everything about gardening. The program focuses on learning for the love of learning. This stress-free approach, opportunity to meet fellow gardeners and share knowledge with the community is exactly what makes the Master Gardener program so popular.

During Master Gardener training, attendees have the opportunity to learn about gardening from University of Illinois educators in a way that is both interesting and practical to the home gardener. The classes are geared for all levels- from beginners to more experienced gardeners. Trainees attend class one day a week for ten weeks. Each session covers a different garden related topic such as Small and Large Fruits, Plant Diseases, Insects, Annual and Perennials, Vegetables, Trees, Shrubs etc. The class price is $175 and includes an extensive book developed by University of Illinois educators specifically written for gardeners in Illinois. Partial scholarships are available.

One of the most rewarding parts about being a Master Gardeners comes from the friendships made with fellow gardeners and knowing you are making a difference in your community. New interns find they have lots of choices on where to earn their volunteer hours. In Vermilion County they volunteer at Kennekuk County Park and Douglas Discovery Garden. They grow vegetables for the local food pantry, work with veterans at the VA, teach children at the Danville Public Library Garden and have a garden program at Aunt Martha's Center for Children's Services. Master Gardeners hold a Garden Day Spring Festival each March, a monthly educational class, weekly radio show, speakers bureau, annual plant sale in May and a garden walk in June. They also research and answer questions from the public through the Extension office Horticulture Hotline. Clearly no matter where your talents lie there is something for everyone.

This holiday season give a very special gift to a friend, family member or even yourself that will last a lifetime. For more information please contact Jenney Hanrahan at the Vermilion County Extension office at 217-442-8615 or visit our website at