Gardening enthusiasts have a unique opportunity in Pratt, one that may not be available again for a long time. K-State Research and Extension Master Gardening classes are scheduled for February and March at the Pratt County Fairgrounds.
The 8-week series of classes have typically been held in Dodge City or Garden City, and the closest was Greensburg, in 2009, according to program coordinator Kathy Stewart. While the classes aren't scheduled until 2013, registration is already being taken, and she advises people who are interested to get it done before the holidays.
The Master Gardener Program is more than just a series of classes — a volunteer commitment is required in return for training by Kansas State University faculty and local horticulture industry experts.
Eight people in Pratt County have completed the initial training, volunteer service and continuing education to become Master Gardeners. They're available to provide information and advice that is research-based, Stewart said, and are currently working to update the tree map in Lemon Park.
Other projects have included identifying trees in downtown Pratt, and last year, the group maintained the flowerbeds, with the help of other volunteers. One of their members writes the weekly gardening tips that are included with Mark Ploger's "Extension Cord" on the Tribune's Agriculture Page. Another member worked with Outdoor Wildlife Learning (OWL) sites at school; and a member supervised the planting of a butterfly garden at the USD 382 administrative building, where preschool classes also meet.
Other volunteer opportunities include:
• staffing booths at various events around the county
• speaking to groups on gardening topics
• working with 4-H and other youth
"We think it's been a real benefit to the community," Stewart said.
Fellow gardener Linda Broce agreed, and said the group could be more active with more members.
Classes include basic botany, fruits and vegetables, annuals and perennials, trees and shrubs, houseplants, landscape maintenance, soil science, landscape design, lawn care, entomology, plant pathology and propagation.
All participants must be at least 18 years old.
- Request application from K-State Research and Extension, Pratt County, 824 W. First, 620-672-6121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Applications are due by Dec. 3.
- An $80 registration fee covers a reference book and other educational materials.
- Attend 8 classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 6 through March 27, in Pratt.
- Complete 40 hours of volunteer education work in the first year and 20 hours each following year to remain in good standing. 10 hours of continuing education are required each year.