Colorado State University Extension in Chaffee County is seeking applicants interested in becoming Colorado Master Gardeners.

The Colorado Master Gardener Program is designed to help county or area Extension offices meet increasing demands by the gardening public for unbiased, research-based information.

It is a program that enlists volunteers, trained by professional staff, to help educate and assist local residents through direct contact, classes and a variety of other methods, representing the Chaffee County Extension Office.  

Current employees of the horticultural industry can also participate in these classes for continuing education for a higher fee without the time commitment of volunteer hours.

Colorado Master Gardeners are members of the local community who have an interest in horticulture.

They are enthusiastic, willing to learn, have a desire to help others, and are able to communicate relevant research-based knowledge to a diverse audience.

What really sets them apart from other home gardeners is the special training they’ve received in horticulture and the time spent working through their local Extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their community.

Colorado Master Gardener training in our community this year will be more tailored for those gardening in mountain communities and will feature additional teachers from around the state who are experts in horticulture and related fields.  

The training will also be 100-percent virtual in early 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of the educational process consists of 50 hours spent as an apprentice in the Chaffee County Extension Office during the growing season, from April to October.

Apprentice Master Gardeners answer telephone requests for information related to gardening, general plant questions and assist people who come to the office with samples of plants for identification and/or diagnosis.

Anyone with an interest in plants and gardening can apply.

Applicants must also be able to attend every session of the training program and fulfill the 50 hours of apprentice time during weekday office hours.

Prior education or experience in gardening is not necessary but will be considered.

Most of all, applicants must be willing to help others.

Because of the time commitment involved, those who are employed must make special arrangements to participate in the program.

Applications can be picked up at the Chaffee County Extension Office at the fair grounds, or are available electronically and must be returned no later than Dec. 4.

For those wanting to take the course, but cannot give the required volunteer time back to the program, this course is also available for a higher registration fee.

Fees for Master Gardener volunteers will be $200 plus 50 hours of volunteer service; Gardener Certificate students’ fees will be $530 (with no volunteer commitment).

Optional textbook is available for additional fee, or online content can be downloaded/printed by accepted students.

Scholarships are available to households meeting income qualifications.

Classes begin on Jan. 6 through April 12 on a weekly basis.

Applications may be accessed online at https://cmg.extension.colostate.edu/ along with more program details.  

For more information, contact Kurt Jones at the extension office at 719-539-6447 or via email at kurt.jones@colostate.edu . Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

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