Forty-one more shopping days until Christmas.
I’m not sure what Santa has in mind for the kids, but I have seen plenty of commercials touting something called a “Furby,” which I’m thinking is some sort of electronic pet that at some point has to go to the vet to get its batteries removed. My daughter mentioned “troll dolls,” and if I’m not mistaken, they were popular in my day.
I’m also assuming that games (no, not Clue, Battleship or even Stratego – are you crazy?) and technology – Xbox, iThings and tablets – are on many wish lists. My son (almost 8) asked for an iPad. An iPad? Don’t those cost hundreds of dollars and have a screen that will soon resemble a spider’s web? But then he asked for a gecko, perhaps because Elena wanted a hermit crab. I’ll take a reptile or crustacean over a Furby any day.
While I’m assuming that very few children would ask for a class, or a workshop or an educational program, I bet there are plenty of you who would love to take part in 11 full-day classes about gardening taught by state and local experts, all for the low, low price of $275.
That’s right, for half the price of a Vitamix blender, maybe one carat of that diamond ring (I really have no idea about rings or diamonds) or perhaps three nights at a hotel in Gallup, N.M., you can fill your brain with fun and useful horticulture facts.
I’m talking about the Colorado Master Gardener Program. The 11-week series will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Jan. 23, at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. The class includes a copy of the full-color, 636-page, 52-chapter textbook The Science of Gardening. Students will receive training in tree and plant care, insects, soils, vegetables, native plants, pruning and more. Much of the education is hands-on, and we try and get you out of the classroom as often as possible.
Still not convinced? The master gardener training is equivalent to a four credit-hour course. In comparison, tuition for an in-state resident for an undergraduate, four-credit class is $1,617 at Colorado State University, plus books and fees. For this class, you don’t have to deal with traffic (car and bike) in Fort Collins, which very well may cause fits of rage as one tries to turn onto College Avenue from Prospect Road during rush hour. Or so I’ve heard.
The program is statewide and has about 750 volunteers. Locally, I oversee (term used loosely) 50 students who have taken the educational aspect of the program and are now dedicated volunteers. These volunteers work toward making gardening, local food projects and horticulture more visible in our community as they work in schools, communities and display gardens throughout the county.
You may have seen their smiling faces at our booth at the Durango Farmers Market, or at a local event or celebration. Heck, I’ve seen them camping, at the grocery store, on the trail and even at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. They’re everywhere!
Currently, we are taking applications for the 2014 class through Dec. 13, with the expectation of accepting no more than 25 students. If you are interested, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of the application either at the Extension Office or online.
Isn’t that better than an e-pet, an iPad or an “o my gosh that present is impossible to put back together again” (aka Transformer)?
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.