On Tuesday, I graduated. Again. It was a smaller affair this time, sans caps and gowns. The coveted prize was to trade in the paper name tag we clung to all year for the official orange Oregon state-shaped Marion County Master Gardener badge. And I made it! Yes, it was a long row to hoe–quite literally–and we had one of the largest graduating classes ever (35). In fact, I had initially been turned away and put on the list for 2013 since there was no more room in the room.
Becoming a certified Master Gardener takes a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work. We started in January, attending class every Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and continued through March. We received a humongous binder of information (to rival Mitt Romney’s binders of women I’m sure), covering topics such as soils and fertilizers, basic entomology, weed management, woody landscape plants, and so on. After that, we had to fulfill 60+ volunteer hours: some hours in the garden, other hours in various roles in the community–from working at the local Food Share, to educating children in schools, or helping with community gardens–to name a few. The bulk of hours was spent at the extension office “help desk,” fielding phone calls from the community, or walk-ins with their gigantic spiders in jars or SWD ravaged blueberries. Sometimes it was a stretch, but I almost always learned something, which I think, was the point. It also felt good to be giving back to the community.
I know you are all dying to know: Now that I have finished the coursework and attained my badge, do I feel like a “master” gardener? Sorry to say, quite the opposite. As I heard a classmate remark at the graduation, “Now we know how much it is that we don’t know.” But as I learned working the help desk, I am certainly better at knowing where to find the answers.
It was a worthy accomplishment, and I’m glad I did it. Oh, and I won one of the door prizes: a three foot tall eucalyptus subcrenulata. (Which I don’t have room for, but should make a lovely Christmas gift.) 🙂