16 students complete Master Gardener training program at Cooperative Extension

Photos courtesy of Orleans County Master Gardener Program: The 2022 Master Gardener Training class (left to right): Melissa Greean, Kate Adams, Lydia Fernandez, Jess Hauptman, Lisa Lancaster, Deb Roberts, Peggy Thomas, Fran Thomas, Sue Starkweather-Miller, David Virgilio and Marianne Virgilio. Not pictured: Mindy Cogovan, Alane Vaillencourt, Kate Hardner, Carol Marshall, and Joe Pane.

Posted 25 April 2022 at 7:00 am

Press Release, Master Gardener Program

KNOWLESVILLE – Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension marked the end of its 2022 Master Gardener Training Course with a celebration and cake.

The meeting was attended by current Master Gardener volunteers as well as most of the 16 trainees who completed the 12-week training course.

To add to the celebration, the Master Gardeners hosted guest speaker Kerrie Roach, a former Orleans County resident and current horticulture extension agent with Clemson Extension in South Carolina.

Roach spoke about proper pruning of trees and shrubs and took the group outside to show specific techniques in pruning shrubs around the Education Center at OCCCE.  The meeting was the first official Master Gardener event attended by the students who had just finished the training the week before. This was the first time the Master Gardener Training course had been offered as an online/in-person hybrid learning style. The trainees appreciated the in-depth content they learned through the online platform, but the face-to-face learning of the in-person classes were invaluable.

Guest presenter Kerrie Roach teaches students and volunteers how to properly prune shrubs at the Master Gardener meeting.

Deb Roberts, a former director of Orleans County CCE, was one of the students who completed the recent training course.

“I have had the privilege of getting to know many Master Gardeners over the years, and I’ve reached a point in my life where I felt I was ready to join in this important work as a volunteer,” Roberts said. “The course had a lot of really thorough information, and I learned a lot. I really appreciated when we reviewed certain topics and were able to practice them in class.”

The in-person classes were held biweekly and included overviews of key concepts detailed in the online assignments as well as hands-on activities such as testing for soil texture and pH, dissecting and labeling floral parts, and practicing methods of diagnosing plant issues.

Katie Oakes, Horticulture Educator and coordinator of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program at Orleans County CCE, was quick to emphasize that despite the high academic level of content within the training, Master Gardener volunteers are not expected to be experts in any of the topics covered.

“The training is intended to give participants a preliminary background in the science behind plant growth, soil health, insect biology, and gardening in general,“ explained Oakes. “Each one of these subjects are career fields that require years of higher education to fully learn. The real goal of the training is to introduce these concepts to the students, and then to teach them how to find reliable, research-based information when they need to put them into practice as volunteers.”

Sue Starkweather-Miller shows a Dahlia tuber during her Final Project presentation

“I think I will look at everything a bit differently as a result of this class!” remarked Sue Starkweather-Miller, an Albion resident and another student in the course. “I will look at my garden (light, shade, soil) and think more about right plant, right place. I will look at a plant that may not be thriving and really try to figure out what is wrong and then how to rectify it.”

This was one of the most successful trainings hosted at Orleans CCE, with an at-capacity roster of students (based on Covid restrictions at the start of the training) and a wait list of several people hoping to enroll.

“I’m just so happy with the turnout for the training, and most of all for the wonderful volunteers we’ve gained by offering it,” said Oakes after the training was complete.  “All of the students were so tolerant of any glitches along the way, so flexible with the teaching formats, and most of all so positive and open to learning.  I’m excited to see what they do as volunteers!”

The Master Gardener Program is a national volunteer organization through each state’s extension university.

This past week, April 17-23, was National Volunteer Week and Orleans County CCE is so grateful for not only its Master Gardener Volunteers, but all the CCE volunteers that so generously give of their time and efforts.

To inquire about the Master Gardener program or any other gardening questions, please contact Katie Oakes at 585-798-4265 ext. 125 or klo54@cornell.edu.

Trainees work on identifying trees using winter twig characteristics