Master Gardener classes to begin in Hidalgo, Cameron counties

EDINBURG — Applications are being accepted for Master Gardener volunteer classes in Hidalgo and Cameron counties, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

Sylvia Casselman, a Master Gardener in Hidalgo County, shows local students how to make plant pots from recycled materials. (AgriLife Extension photo by Barbara Storz)

Sylvia Casselman, a Master Gardener in Hidalgo County, shows local students how to make plant pots from recycled materials. (AgriLife Extension photo by Barbara Storz)

In Hidalgo County, the classes will be offered for the first time on a half-day basis to accommodate those able to take off a half a day of work during the week, said Barbara Storz, AgriLife Extension horticulturist.

Classes will be held from 12:30-5:30 p.m.each Thursday and ending May 15. Cost of the program is $185, which includes the class manual and field trip expenses.

Classes will be held at the AgriLife Extension office for Hidalgo County at the Master Gardener Clubhouse, located at North San Juan Park, 509 E. Earling, located on the Nolana Loop extension, just east of Raul Longoria Road.

“This year we’ve timed the classes in the afternoon for a couple of important reasons,” she said. “One is that those who work part-time or have flexible schedules tell us it’s much easier to take off half a day than it is to devote a full day a week for volunteer training. The other reason is that those who can devote an entire day to Master Gardening can perform their volunteer hours in the morning and attend classes in the afternoon.”

The Master Gardeners program teaches horticultural education and skills to citizens. Before they can become certified as Texas Master Gardeners, they must volunteer 60 hours of community service to share their knowledge and training.

In Cameron County, classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, beginning Feb. 12 and ending Sept. 10. They will be held at the Cameron County San Benito Annex at 1390 W. Expressway 83 in San Benito.

Jennifer Herrera, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent in San Benito and coordinator of the Cameron County Master Gardener Association, said the growing popularity of Master Gardener classes is remarkable.

“It’s amazing,” Herrera said. “We’re getting inquiries from one end of the Rio Grande Valley to the other, from Mission to South Padre Island, and from people of all ages.”

The fee for the Master Gardener classes in Cameron County is also $185.

Storz said Master Gardeners perform much-needed services in the community.

“Our Master Gardeners provide valuable educational programs to schools and local organizations on many horticultural topics, and they maintain an educational demonstration garden that is available for group tours,” she said.

Classes are taught by a variety of experts and cover the basics of soil and soil amendments, plant propagation, disease and insect control, as well as native plants, landscape design, citrus care, invasive plants and various aspects of water conservation in the garden, Storz said.

“In addition to this educational program, throughout the year Master Gardeners have the opportunity to participate in additional, more specialized study and they are invited to participate in a state Master Gardeners conference held yearly.”

 For more information on Master Gardener classes in Hidalgo County, contact Storz at 956-383-1026. In Cameron County, contact Herrera at 956-361-8236, or go to http://txmg.org/cameron for an online application.

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