Upper Peninsula Extension Master Gardener Training Course offered online September–December 2020

Any Upper Peninsula resident can register for the online Extension Master Gardener Training Course by Aug. 27, 2020.

Extension Master Gardeners training
During face-to-face trainings in 2019, Extension Master Gardeners (left to right) Erin Minne, Amalia Anderson and Hilary Sproule label the correct parts of a branch. Similar activities will be available and adapted for online participants. Photo by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension.

If you’ve been waiting for the Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Training Course to be held in your Upper Peninsula county, now is the time to register. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently offering an online format scheduled for Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 10 p.m. EST (4:30 to 9 p.m. CST) from Sept. 3 through Dec. 10. All Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin residents are welcome. The only requirements are a high-speed internet and that your computer, phone or tablet has a camera and audio capabilities.

This online option is a great way to learn about various gardening topics from the comfort of your home. Plus, online participants experience the same research-based instruction that occurs with the traditional in-person class offering with extra online activities. Additional class time has been allocated to allow for participant interaction and socializing. Face-to-face interactions with class members and current Extension Master Gardeners will also occur in 2021 when it is safe to do so.

Participants in this past spring’s MSU Extension Master Gardener course adjusted to an unanticipated online format and were resoundingly positive. One participant from this course stated, “I highly recommend the MSU Extension Master Gardener online class. The online format was user-friendly and made me feel more comfortable asking questions than I might have in-person. Through the online lessons, we were able to learn practical information from experts in their fields from across the state of Michigan. I learned from experts in woody ornamentals, entomology, vegetables, fruit trees, lawns, diagnostics and so much more.”

Registration for the Extension Master Gardener Training Course includes a two-step process. The first step involves completing the MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process, which consists of providing at least three character references unrelated to you, a criminal history check, acceptance of the volunteer code of conduct and an interview.

Once you complete the Volunteer Selection Process application, you will receive an email with the Extension Master Gardener Training Course registration link to complete the second step, which is registering and paying for the course. The cost of this 50-plus educational hour course is $325. Partial scholarships are available and need to be applied for after completing registration; scholarship deadline is Aug. 10.

The following are some of the questions potential participants may have about the online format.

Won’t an online class limit our hands-on class experiences?

Although online instruction will limit the ability of the classroom instructor to provide you with face-to-face plant or insect samples, samples will still be shown and explained using video conference. Participants will be assigned to gather some learning materials and observe what they are learning in class using their own backyards. Certain hands-on activities, such as an introduction to pruning, will be discussed and practiced during online instruction.

Will the quality of instruction be the same as what is offered for the traditional face-to-face format?

Yes, all instructors are well-versed and knowledgeable about their subjects and provide the latest research-based horticultural information. Participants hear and experience at least 10 different presenters on at least 14 different horticultural topics. Participants also each receive a 1,000-plus page Extension Master Gardener handbook.

How will we meet existing Extension Master Gardeners and be informed about ongoing volunteer projects?

Class time will be allotted to invite existing Extension Master Gardeners to join the online class and introduce themselves and their projects. This same process occurred during this past spring’s class and was well received by Extension Master Gardeners and the participants. Several class participants became interested in volunteering for the projects that were presented.

Don’t delay in starting the registration process! Visit the MSU Extension Volunteer Central website and select the “Extension Master Gardener Program” to start the Volunteer Selection Process. Click “Apply” and select the “Extension Master Gardener Program.”

If you have questions regarding the Upper Peninsula Extension Master Gardener Training Course or how to sign up, please contact Rebecca Krans at kransr@msu.edu.

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