Applications for 2011 Master Gardener program are available

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Master Gardener Program is accepting applications for 2011. The deadline to apply is Jan. 3.

Master Gardeners are experts in all things related to home gardening in Monmouth County. After completing classroom and hands-on training, Master Gardener trainees share their knowledge by conducting garden lectures, demonstrations, school and community gardening projects, telephone diagnostic service for callers and research.

“Each Master Gardener trainee receives in-depth, hands-on training in horticulture from the best in the field – Rutgers and Brookdale faculty as well as Cooperative Extension Service professional staff,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “The program includes plant biology, propagation, soil science and pest control.”

To qualify to be a Master Gardener, an applicant must live in Monmouth County, be available to attend the 10 weeks of classes and have a genuine commitment to provide gardening information and service to the community.

Classroom sessions will be held from February through May on Tuesday and Thursday or Friday mornings. The first class is Feb. 22. At the conclusion of the classes, Master Gardener trainees are required to give 60 hours of volunteer time in horticultural projects and answering calls on the county’s “horticulture helpline.” Those who complete the training become certified Master Gardeners.

Those interested in the program should file an application no later than Jan. 3, 2011. Applications can be downloaded from the county’s Web site at www.visitmonmouth.com. Be sure to click on the Department link to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service page. Applications are also available from the Cooperative Extension Service at 4000 Kozloski Rd., Freehold, or by calling 732-431-7260.

There is a $250 fee to cover material and program costs.

The Master Gardener Program, conducted throughout the United States and Canada, is a two-part educational effort, in which avid gardeners are provided many hours of intense home horticulture training. In return, they “pay back” local university extension agents through volunteerism. In Monmouth County, the program is a cooperative effort of Rutgers University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Brookdale Community College and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.