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Anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener or learning techniques to overcome gardening obstacles can attend the 2014 Wyoming Master Gardeners and Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association Joint Conference March 13-15 in Sheridan.
“Gardening in Wyoming is completely different than anywhere else,” says Chris Hilgert, Wyoming Master Gardener coordinator with University of Wyoming Extension. “Living up to the Master Gardener title is a challenge when you are facing an unforgiving growing environment. This program is important because we teach gardeners in Wyoming how to overcome the wind, dry conditions and lack of rain.”
Hilgert explains the use of greenhouses, high tunnels and other techniques are often recommended and taught by Master Gardeners to extend Wyoming’s short growing season and evade its harsh conditions.
“This conference is a chance for the Wyoming group to come together as a whole and highlight the best educational and hands-on experiences we offer to help train other Master Gardeners and the general public,” Hilgert says.
This is the first year the Wyoming Farmers Market Association will join the conference, themed “Growing Together,” to teach gardeners about marketing produce and creating a profitable business. Conference information is at www.uwyo.edu/mastergardener. Natrona County horticulture educator Rod Davis started the Wyoming Master Gardener program in 1984. Master Gardeners are the connection between extension and residents interested in rural and urban horticulture. In 2013, there were 534 Master Gardeners in 14 counties. They reported 10,904 volunteer hours and 2,216 educational hours.
Master Gardeners are required to complete a 40-hour training program that teaches botany, soils, flowers, trees, shrubs, lawns, vegetables, fruits, entomology, pesticide safety and diagnosing plant problems.
“The common link between all Master Gardeners is that they have a passion for gardening,” Hilgert says.
A Master Gardener from Natrona County became the “Bug Lady” to help answer questions related to entomology, a branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects. Judy Logue became well-versed in the subject by taking classes outside of the Master Gardeners program.
“Judy did so many things for the Master Gardener program but, most importantly, she studied a topic not a lot of people wanted to study,” says Donna Cuin, Natrona County extension horticulturist. “Not long after she started, she became capable of answering questions related to identifying insects and teaching other Master Gardeners about the topic.”
Contact any local extension office or go online at http://bit.ly/wyomastergardener for more information about the program.