The Union County Board of County Commissioners would like to announce that the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County program is now recruiting for its 35th class. Gardeners of all levels can sharpen and practice their skills while giving back to the community by joining the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County.
“The Master Gardeners program is one of our most successful volunteer programs in all of Union County,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and share in their mission of providing our community with the most comprehensive and useful education on horticulture that can be applied to their everyday lives.”
The Master Gardeners are volunteers who are trained and certified by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County. They create and run programs for the public including educational workshops and horticulture programs for people with special needs. The centerpiece of the program is the 1.5-acres Union County Demonstration Garden, located adjacent to the Trailside Nature and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation, at 152 New Providence Road in Mountainside.
The 2024 Master Gardener training program is from January to May, and consists of weekly classes that cover basic botany, entomology and plant pathology, integrated pest management, vegetable gardening, tree fruit, lawn care and flower gardening among other topics. Participants who complete the coursework and provide 60 hours of pre-approved community service earn the title of Rutgers Certified Master Gardener.
To complete the coursework, students have the option to either attend live lectures or learn asynchronously. Live lectures will be on Tuesday mornings from 10 am – 12:30 pm held at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office in Westfield. Asynchronous learning students will have access to pre-recorded lectures, all the same study materials, and occasional evening office hours.
“The Master Gardener program exceeded my expectations. From both the classroom and volunteering at the demonstration garden, I gained a wealth of knowledge on gardening, new ideas for plants and vegetables in my own garden, and how to research and address plant diseases. It was also nice to meet so many fellow Master Gardeners. The course was taught by a Rutgers professor, covering interesting and current topics from soil, insects, plant pathology, pruning, house plants, flower gardens, native and pollinators and vegetable gardening, etc. The Integrated Pest Management project taught me how to find a problem, research for a solution, and practice what I learned.” wrote a 2023 participant.
Another participant added, “What an awesome experience this has been! I enrolled in the Master Gardener course as a virtual student. The content of the course is vast and detailed, the instructors so informative, the lessons well presented. My mom is a bona fide master gardener, and I always felt that I needed to nurture that nagging instinct to grow things. The more I learned with the course, the braver I became, no longer hesitant, but willingly allowing my green thumb to flourish. I created a perennial garden in the front of my house, and grew vegetables in my backyard. I am absolutely proud of my thriving roses, lavender, hydrangeas and azaleas. I tasted the sweetest tomatoes, crunchiest cucumbers, most fragrant peppers and freshest lettuce, all grown by me. This course truly changed my life… and I proudly tell my family and friends that yes, I am now a Master Gardener.”
Another Master Gardener student noted, “I enjoyed the Master Gardeners course very much. I started the course with only a basic understanding of gardening and learned a great deal about the growing seasons, the soil, dealing with pests, and the great variety of gardens that can be planted. Based on the research available from Rutgers, I also discovered a number of strategies to improve my own garden. A key benefit is that I have met a number of wonderful people through the program, and I continue to learn from the more experienced Master Gardeners.”
“This program showcases the wonderful volunteers we have in our community, and how their generosity contributes to keeping our environment beautiful and bountiful,” said Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski, Liaison to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Board. “I encourage those that have an interest in all things horticulture, gardening, or simply want to try a new way to give back to consider applying.”
To apply for the 2024 training course, visit the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County registration website at http://bttr.im/fem3x. Once accepted into the program, there is a $200 program registration fee. Applicants must be willing to participate in volunteer activities. The program can accommodate 30 students.
To learn more about the Master Gardeners program, please call Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County 908-654-9854 ext. 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County is a volunteer program offered through Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJ Agriculture Experiment Stations and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in cooperation with the Union County Board of County Commissioners. It is supported in Union County by the Commissioner Board, with administrative assistance and office space in Westfield, land for the Demonstration Garden, and funding for special projects. For more information about all Extension projects and activities in Union County, including Master Gardeners, Master Tree Stewards and the 4-H youth development program, visit ucnj.org/rce.
Union County 4-H Clubs are open to all students k-12+. Explore your favorite activity while learning skills like teamwork, organization, public speaking and more. Next year’s session will follow the 2023-24 school year calendar. An open house will be held in September 2023 to meet the club leaders and find out more. For details contact Union County 4-H Agent James Nichnadowicz, at 908-654-9854 (ext. 3) or email@example.com.
For quick links to all environmental programs and activities in Union County supported by the Commissioner Board, visit The Green Connection at ucnj.org/green-connection.
Cooperative Extension online activities for all ages:
4-H from Home offers youth activities with STEAM learning and community service.
Receive gentle wellness messages every Wednesday and Saturday from the Rutgers Live Well-Stay Healthy program (sign up with the Remind App or Remind.com,code @f3ccc46).
Get expert self care guidance by email (to sign up for the following two programs, contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension Union County educator Dr. Karen Ensle at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Healthy on the Job Self-Care is a weekly series focused on essential workers.
Get Moving, Get Healthy at Home is a weekly series geared toward those who are at home.
Read the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and NJ Agriculture Experiment Station statement onRacial and Social Justice.
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County is part of a statewide program run by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension of Rutgers University, connecting citizens with science-based educational opportunities.
The Union County Extension is supported in part by the Commissioner Board, with offices located at the Colleen Frasier Building in the Union County Complex, 300 North Avenue East in Westfield.
The Union County Extension offers the following educational programs to Union County residents:
4-H Clubs: This program is for students in grades 1-12 and beyond. The 4-H program encourages students to explore a topic of their own choosing, and share their knowledge while practicing teamwork, public speaking and other life skills. Club sign-ups take place in September.
Master Gardeners: No horticultural experience is needed to participate. Master Gardeners receive training in best practices for pest management and many other aspects of gardening. They share their knowledge throughout Union County. They also run the Demonstration Garden, located in Union County’s Watchung Reservation in Mountainside. Training takes place each spring.
Master Tree Stewards: Master Tree Stewards are trained in tree conservation, and they learn how to teach students about the importance of trees. In addition to projects related to tree conservation in Union County parks, each spring the Master Tree Stewards provide 4th grade classrooms with interactive lessons on trees and the environment. Training takes place each fall.
Rutgers Environmental Stewards: This program is designed to help non-scientists learn about the science behind environmental issues impacting their communities. Training begins in January and includes classes on habitat conservation, climate change, recycling, and more.
For more information call the Extension offices in Westfield at 908-654-9854 or use theStaff Directory.
Are you looking for more programs?
Links to all Union County Extension programs are at the top of the left column on this page including:
Master Tree Stewards
4-H Club Leader
Rain Barrel Instructors
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County belongs to a national network of more than 3,100 county offices and research institutions, including Rutgers University, organized under the U.S. Department of Agriculture to foster youth development and community health.