WOOSTER, Ohio — Master Gardener volunteers from across Ohio helped Secrest Arboretum regrow after a 2010 tornado.
Now the 115-acre plant collection, part of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, hopes to return the favor.
The arboretum is taking applications for its first new class of Master Gardener volunteers in at least a decade, said arboretum program assistant Paul Snyder. The deadline to apply is Jan. 29.
Participants in the class will receive 50 hours of in-depth horticulture training. Then, every year, they’ll provide at least 50 hours of volunteer service on plant and gardening matters.
That 2010 tornado tore through the middle of the arboretum. It destroyed, among other things, some 1,500 trees.
‘An incredible group of people’
Afterward, “Master Gardener volunteers from around the state partnered with us to create the Secrest we know today,” said Snyder, who’s organizing the class. “Master Gardener volunteers are an incredible group of people.
“We saw a need in our own county to have that same kind of program.”
Master Gardeners is a U.S.- and Canada-wide effort that in Ohio is run by Ohio State University Extension.
Master Gardener volunteers, for example, staff phone helplines, speak at public events, take photos, give tours, propagate plants, maintain gardens and more, all depending on their interests.
Some 77 of Ohio’s 88 counties currently have Master Gardener programs, according to an OSU Extension webpage. But for the past 10 years or so, Wayne County, the home of Wooster, hasn’t had one, Snyder said.
“As an arboretum, we felt it was within the scope of our mission to take on such a program,” he said.
When it meets
The new class will meet in the arboretum’s Miller Pavilion from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting on March 16 and going through May 11, for a total of 10 sessions.
Experts from the arboretum, the research center and OSU Extension — all of which are part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University — will serve as instructors for the class.
How to apply
Participation costs $150. The class is limited to 25. An application and one-on-one interview are required; the interview is mainly to determine each applicant’s gardening interests, Snyder said. Details and a link to the application are at u.osu.edu/secrestmg.
“If the arboretum and community get something out of this, great, but that’s not our focus,” Snyder said. “I know that sounds strange, but what I mean is, I don’t want something from our Master Gardener volunteers, rather, I want something for them.
“I want them to be better gardeners. I want them to experience the joys, wonders, disappointments and friendships that come from a life of gardening. I want them to have a better life overall because they’re more connected to the planet we live on.”
For more information, contact Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-263-3761.