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Registration is now open for the 2020 season of the Oregon Master Gardener program, offered through the Lincoln County Extension office in Newport.

This Oregon State University program offers college-level horticultural training that participants can put into practice through volunteer activities. Volunteers resolve plant concerns through plant clinics in the office, informal conversations at farmers markets, or in gardens as they advise novice gardeners.

The Oregon Master Gardener program was one of the first in the nation, developed in the early 1970s — and until recently, had changed very little since. In May 2019, Master Gardener Program coordinators from all over the state began a process aimed at aligning the program more closely with the needs, interests and time constraints of today’s gardening public.

The training season has shortened from 11 to nine weeks in the classroom. This year there will also be two concise workshops in the garden later in the growing season. In 2020, classes will start on Thursday, Jan. 23, and wrap up on March 19. Trainings in Lincoln County will be on Thursdays, from 9 am to 3 pm.

The Master Gardener program is, at heart, a volunteer program. But the program acknowledges that not everyone is interested in volunteering — or might be considering volunteering at some later time. Plenty of people are just seeking great gardening information — especially in a unique gardening environment like the coastal region. The Master Gardener program offers two options: volunteer 60 hours in the months following training, and the cost is $220. If the participant prefers not to commit to volunteering, the cost is $490 plus an additional registration fee.

The 2020 Master Gardener application is available at the Lincoln County Extension office at 1211 SE Bay Blvd in Newport. Call 541-547-6534 for a mailed application, or register online at extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/lincoln/become-master-gardener

Applications will be accepted until Dec. 20 or until the class is full.

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