Opportunities available in Master Gardener program

Courses available for interested participants

Penn State Master Gardeners are volunteers who receive science based training from Penn State Extension in horticulture and all aspects of gardening.

They support Penn State Cooperative Extension in helping educate the public in many different ways to help them improve their home environment. During the growing season, the Penn State Master Gardeners of the Juniata Valley maintain a garden hotline on Mondays for questions or concerns about your garden or landscape. There are also a number of horticultural workshops presented by the Master Gardeners that are open to the public to help educate local gardeners and they maintain a demonstration garden above the Mifflin County Library with examples of pollinator plants, water conservation efforts and vegetable gardens.

The master gardeners also provide a number of publications, herb booklets and other informative materials at their workshops and other events. Each spring, the master gardeners hold a plant sale offering many different plants including vegetables, perennials, annuals, flowers and a few surprises. Master gardeners also receive ongoing, research-based training and education from Penn State and other local experts during their regular meetings.

To become a master gardener, one must have a keen interest in gardening and a desire to help others learn. A minimum of forty hours of instruction in sustainable gardening concepts is required for course completion. Classes are held one night per week at the Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown. Classes include botany, plant propagation, pesticides and pest management, plant diseases and insects, soil and fertilizers, turf grass management, vegetable gardening, pruning, native plants to Pennsylvania, invasive weeds, small fruits and others.

An examination is given on-site at the end of the forty hours where a minimum of 80 percent is required for completion. In addition, the trainees must complete 50 hours of volunteer community service by working at events such as plant sales, attending educational seminars or meetings, webinars, workshops or other extension-sponsored programs. It is very easy to fulfill this requirement!

Trainees also receive a huge Master Gardener Manual that is used throughout the training which provides a tremendous amount of information on many topics related to gardening. Master Gardeners must maintain their membership each year by providing 20 hours of volunteer service with 10 of those hours being continuing education–again an easy requirement.

The Penn State Master Gardeners of the Juniata Valley are planning another class beginning soon. Do not be intimidated by these requirements. The master gardeners are there to help you along the way. If you are interested in becoming a master gardener, call the Mifflin County Extension Office at (717) 248-9618 or email mifflinmg@psu.edu and we will add you to the list.