Why did you decide to become a Master Gardener? Way back in 1985 I had just started writing a garden column for the Amherst Bulletin and I felt I needed an education in horticulture. I had studied government, not biology in college.
What did you like best and least about the training? What I liked least was the very scientific parts about soil composition and also the sections about pesticides. In 1986 Cooperative Extension was still recommending very toxic substances that scared the wits out of me. (we don’t cover much of that anymore, much more organic).
Did you love or hate the 60 intern hours? I loved the intern hours, which at that time (1986) were mostly spent staffing a plant clinic with pH soil tests in the county Extension office in Northampton. I went once a week for 3 hours. I also did garden lectures and staffed farmers markets. Interacting with the public was delightful. I always went home feeling I had helped somebody with their gardening problems.
What do you like best now about being an MG? I love meeting all the new interns and helping them become full- fledged MGs. I also enjoy the communal work at places like the Hospice of the Fisher Home and the Sojourner Truth Garden. And I found great satisfaction in being an official mentor to interns.
What is your favorite MG volunteer activity? Mentoring, plus the work at Sojourner Truth Memorial Park.
What would you tell someone contemplating applying for our MG training? The training classes are fascinating and challenging. Don’t get discouraged. The volunteer hour requirement is really easily met since there are so many volunteer opportunities. I would suggest selecting one activity as your basic volunteer work and then, depending on your personality, do as much public education and community service as possible. Try to get involved at least once in several different opportunities such as the BBG herb garden, the UMass hotline, working on a WMMGA committee, 4-H and school projects etc. Do attend at least one of the three spring symposia and help with another symposium.