If you like to use your gardening skills, and help others develop theirs, Master Gardener training starts in Casper Tuesday, October 16th. Who are the Master Gardeners? They're local gardeners who have taken classes from the University of Wyoming Extension (UWE), and are willing to volunteer their time back to their community, said Donna Hoffman, horticulturist with the Natrona County UWE office. They learn basic gardening skills, as well as how and where to research more difficult gardening problems to find a solution.

People interested in the program need to attend an interview and informational sessions before starting the course, according to Hoffman. “Many believe Master Gardeners must be walking gardening encyclopedias, and that puts some level of fear in people who might otherwise be interested in learning better gardening practices and helping other people with gardening problems,” she said.

Some are long-time gardeners, others are new to garden and need help to get started. “Some Master Gardeners are young gardeners who don’t know where to start and know they need some help when they wander into a local Extension Office, sometimes for the first time” said Hoffman. “Still others learned to garden in other parts of the country and need to adapt gardening practices to a new climate, new soil conditions or different growing seasons.”

The Natrona County Master Gardener program offers 63 hours of training, with topics ranging from botany to water wise gardening which are taught based upon the Sustainable Horticulture for Wyoming, a Master Gardener handbook. After the training is completed, trainees are required to volunteer a minimum of 40 hours in their community before receiving the title of Master Gardener.

“Many Extension Offices receive thousands of phone calls a season, and the assistance of many volunteers is needed to meet these horticultural demands,” said Hoffman. “The whole idea is to begin a lifelong learning process with an interest in volunteering to help others,” Hoffman noted.

Interested gardeners can find more information on the Natrona County website or contact the Natrona County office at (307) 235-9400. You can also stop by the Agricultural Resource and Learning Center, 2011 Fairgrounds Road in Casper,to sign up.

Classes will be held Tuesday evenings, this fall and spring from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, and Saturdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm.