Stanislaus County is joining the Master Gardener program, which trains volunteers to share their knowledge about how to grow stuff.
Sept. 28 is the deadline to apply for the first round of training, which will be in Stockton on 19 Wednesdays from Jan. 30 through June 5, 2019. The training has a $180 fee.
Volunteers will spread what they learn about plants, soil, irrigation, pests and related topics. They will do it at public events and nurseries, over the phone, on social media and via other methods.
The program is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension, which has an office off Crows Landing Road west of Ceres. Almost all of the state’s 58 counties have joined Master Gardener since its 1981 launch.
“Our goal is to encourage healthy environments (and improve the appearance of our community) with sustainable landscaping and gardening, green waste reduction and water conservation,” said Roger Duncan, county director for the extension, in an email.
The organizers hope to eventually have at least 100 volunteers. They must provide at least 50 hours of service in the first 12 months after graduation and at least 25 hours per year after that.
The volunteers do not need to start out with detailed knowledge of gardening, said Kari Arnold, the farm adviser overseeing the program. That will come from experts tapping into university research on the various topics.
Arnold is new to the Stanislaus office. She also works with commercial growers of walnuts, cherries, grapes and apricots.
The San Joaquin County office is doing the first round of training, but it will shift to Stanislaus for the fall 2019 version and later.
For more information, visit ucanr.edu/sites/stancountymg or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.