OSU master gardeners sponsor 3-day mini college in July

May 17, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Thirty years ago, Oregon State University Extension agents in Clackamas and Lane counties introduced the Master Gardener program to Oregon gardeners. Since starting with fewer than 50 volunteers in the mid-1970s, the program has blossomed.

"In 2006, we trained 820 new Master Gardeners," said Jan McNeilan, OSU Extension consumer horticulturist and statewide Master Gardener coordinator. "Master Gardeners are active in 30 of Oregon's 36 counties, giving to Extension more than 3,000 active volunteers to help solve horticultural problems."

Over the spring and summer, OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and staff are inviting interested persons to help celebrate their 30-year anniversary. Part of the celebration includes the 2006 Master Gardener Mini-College, held on the OSU campus July 26-29 at the CH2M-Hill Alumni Center.

The mini-college features three-plus days of seminars, workshops, tours and other learning experiences, along with a silent auction. Attendees will stay in OSU residence halls and feast on barbecue. OSU Bookstore will have a presence on-site, selling a diverse array of gardening books. There will be daily prizes and exhibits as well.

"You don't need to be a Master Gardener to attend, but the time spent associating with these volunteers will likely make you want to join," said McNeilan.

On the final day of the mini-college (July 29), the Linn and Benton Master Gardeners will host a closing ceremony called "Twilight in the Garden" at Holstein House Gardens, southeast of Corvallis. Maps will be provided. This closing event, from 4 to 10 p.m. will include no-host food and wine, surrey rides, games and live music. All proceeds go to the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a non-profit group supporting the OSU Extension Service Master Gardener program.

In the early days, Master Gardeners were trained to focus primarily on diagnosing and finding solutions to plant problems. Fast forward to 2006: The Oregon Master Gardener program has matured and is now one of the most popular of OSU Extension's volunteer programs, nationally recognized as one of the strongest programs in the nation.

Answering the public's gardening questions has always been a major focus, but volunteers have branched out to work on a wide array of projects. They also design and present educational programs on critical issues such as safe pest management practices, water quality, yard waste management and composting.

To learn more about the mini-college, and to download registration packets, go to the website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/omga/minicollege.php

To learn more about the Holstein House event, use this link: http://home.earthlink.net/~holsteinhouse/index.htm

And to learn more about the OSU Extension Service Master Gardener program, visit: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg or contact your local county office of the OSU Extension Service.

Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Jan McNeilan