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So you wanna be a master gardener? Classes forming soon

If you're interested in becoming a master gardener, now's your chance. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County holds classes every second year, and 2011 is an "on" year. I went through the program a few years back and can attest it's top notch -- the best education available in the field short of a horticulture degree. But if you think you're just going to learn about pretty flowers, think again. Sure, there's a little bit of that, but mostly it's science: Latin botanical nomenclature. Entymology, including the inner-workings of insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts. And fertilizer math. In short, a master gardener designation is one you can be proud of having earned.

Classes will begin September 6 and finish in late November, with classroom sessions every Tuesday from 9:15 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., plus Thursday field trips in September. After you successfully complete the course, you'll have to commit to 150 hours of volunteering over a 2 year period. That is, after all, the whole point of the program: To educate home gardeners in practical, environmentally friendly horticulture methods and related topics and send them forth to decimate that knowledge to the public by manning the Horticulture Information Center, giving lectures, holding plant clinics, etc.

While you don't have to live in Nassau County to apply, residents will be given preference. If you're interested, call the Gardening Helpline 516-228-0426 ext. 7, which is staffed by master gardener volunteers, Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or request an application by mail by sending your name and address to: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow NY 11554. You will receive an application in February, and will need to complete and return it by March 15.

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