OSU Extension Master Gardener Classes Return to Portland


PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon State University Extension Service's hands-on Master Gardener training will return to Portland in January for the first time in six years.

The 66-hour course, which costs $345, will be held on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. between Jan. 8 and March 19 at the Central Lutheran Church located at 1820 N.E. 21st Ave. The deadline for registering is Nov. 30.

Weston Miller, an OSU Extension urban horticulturist for the Portland metro area, will teach some of the classes along with other Extension faculty, Master Gardeners and industry professionals. Through interactive instruction, participants will learn about soils, compost, home vegetable and container gardening, small fruits, home orchards, pruning, ornamental plant and lawn care, insect identification, plant diseases, ecological landscape design, water-wise gardening strategies, safe pesticide use and weed management.

Graduates will be expected to spread their new knowledge to the public by serving as volunteer garden educators for 66 hours before the end of October 2009. Possibilities include staffing educational booths at farmer’s markets, helping at community or school gardens, assisting nonprofits engaged in garden-based education or answering phone calls about plant questions at county Extension offices. People who work in the nursery, landscape or garden industries can forgo the volunteer requirement by paying $690 for the class.

The last time Extension offered Master Gardener training in Multnomah County in a classroom setting was in 2002. In 2003, it offered the course online in a one-time pilot program. A new online course was launched for the entire state this year.

Extension had ended its in-class Master Gardener training in Multnomah County because an economic downturn led county officials to eliminate county funding for Extension. Consequently, the Extension office there closed in 2003, but some Extension programs continued in the county with financial support from other local partners.

OSU Extension is now able to offer the in-class Master Gardener program in Multnomah County because of a partnership agreement with Portland State University. As part of that agreement, Miller, who was hired by OSU Extension last year, has a joint appointment with PSU as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education. He is also the site manager for the Learning Gardens Laboratory, a 12-acre parcel in southeast Portland that PSU leases.

In addition to Portland, other training in the metro area in 2009 will take place in Beaverton on Tuesdays from Jan. 6 to March 17 and in Oregon City on Fridays from Jan. 9 to March 20. Classes will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To obtain an application for these trainings as well as the one in Portland, call Jordis Yost at 503-650-3118, e-mail her at jordis.yost@oregonstate.edu, or download a form at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/metro/mg-registration-materials.

OSU will also offer its Master Gardener training online from Jan. 12 to April 12. Registration will open on Nov. 3. Information on the online training is at http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/workforce/master-gardener-online/.

Oregon has more than 3,000 active, dues-paying Master Gardeners. In 2007, they reported about 150,000 interactions with the public and volunteered for more than 100,000 hours, said Gail Langellotto, the statewide coordinator for the Master Gardener program. Master Gardener training is conducted in 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Courses typically run from 40-70 hours during the winter, and graduates are expected to volunteer for an equal amount of time within the first year of completing the course.