Circle of knowledge, circumference of ignorance

Two weeks ago I took my Master Gardener final. Well, I attempted to take it.  God bless the working/studying/multi-tasking moms of the world.

I sent Chris to the zoo with the kids.

The last day of class we corrected the exams and took our first class picture.

And then today we had a fabulous party and received our certificates.

Upon completion, I must say that this is an OUTSTANDING program.  Thorough, well-organized, hands-on, professional—there wasn’t a lecture or a homework assignment or a lab activity that was a dud.  I feel honored to have participated, and I vow to make good on the “public service” end of the agreement that is at the heart of the Master Gardener program.

Just one small suggestion I’d make based on Pascal’s words about the larger the circle of knowledge, the greater the circumference of ignorance.  (Or when we know more things, we also have more cognitive surface area touching the edges of what we don’t know.)  We got a t-shirt to wear at volunteer activities that looks like this:

And I’d like to suggest that it be amended to read:

Ask a Master Gardener

but please go easy on me because really, there is a ridiculous amount to know about gardening, and I can be an absolute genius in one thing and still be an idiot in another and this program has laid the foundation for me to be a lifelong garden learner, eager to share what I learn with you…so just realize that I may know an answer but then again I may not and then I will do my best to find it….”Master” is a big word, I know, but I didn’t come up with the title. Thank you and have a nice day.

It would be a little wordy, but at least it would provide full disclosure.

Thumbs up for hands-on learning

We’re always talking about how good experiential education is for kids.  Hands-on instruction just seems to deliver content in a way that kids learn.  Or perhaps…all people learn?   In my master gardener training, we have five hours of class a week.  The mornings are excellent lectures, and the afternoons are often workshops/labs.  I have loved the experiential piece, reaffirming the vast possibilities for garden-based education.  Here are some snapshots of the experiential component of the Master Gardener program in San Diego:

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First Day of (Master Gardeners) School

Today was the first day of my Master Gardeners program so I thought I’d recreate a classic family photo.

Me on my first day of first grade.

Me on my first day of Master Gardeners training (with all of my teeth and no knee socks.  The 1971 Chevy Impala has been replaced by a Toyota hybrid.)

Master Gardeners is a University of California Cooperative Extension program that is offered every two years in San Diego County.  A 50 hour program with 16 classes over a five-month period, the program provides expert training to volunteers in horticulture and pest management.  Classes, taught by specialists, cover soils, irrigation, propagation, plant pathology, vegetables, sustainable practices, entomology, and much more .  Once training is complete and an exam passed, a person is a certified master gardener, ready to devote 50 hours to public education (with additional service and continuing education to recertify every year thereafter.)  One must apply with a written application and interview to be chosen to join the 56-person cohort.

When I went to the application orientation, I was encouraged not to be scared off by the term “master gardener,” instead viewing the experience as an opportunity to be involved in ongoing nonformal education and public service within a learning community.  After 2 1/2 years with our school garden, I have plenty of ideas and plenty of questions so I am ready to go! I am looking forward to a two-way flow of information from the MG program to our school effort, and from our school project back into public education. (One MG committee to serve with is School Gardens—this naturally is where I’m headed.)  In short, I feel privileged to be a part of the 2012 class and will be reporting regularly on what I’m learning.

For more information, visit http://www.mastergardenerssandiego.org