This is part 1 of a 3 part series, written by Val McGruder, Hennepin County Master Gardener

The Application Process

I sent in my application, including my six researched questions and my three references.  I dropped it in the mail, crossed my fingers, and waited for what seemed like a long time.  Then I got an e-mail inviting me to an interview by a team of master gardeners and the coordinator for the Hennepin County Master Gardener program. I was nervous that day as I answered each question they asked.  I tried to appear calm and collected.  At the end of the interview they thanked me for coming in and told me I would hear something in a few weeks.  As I drove home, I thought back on some of my answers and decided that I had probably blown it by my lack of composure and my stupid answers.

The Core Course Training

The day I learned that I had been accepted into the University of Minnesota Master Gardener program was at once exciting (I screamed and jumped up and down!), and a little scary.  First, I hoped that I would be able to complete the core course, which was on the St. Paul campus in the winter.  I made two dry runs just to make sure I knew how to navigate the roads.  The classes were Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The first night I arrived early and met a fellow student from Big Lake.  We talked until class started and then sat next to each other.  As I looked around the crowded auditorium, it struck me that there was such a wide range of students.  Some obviously quite young, others middle age and some that looked considerably older than myself.

There was also a mix of women and men.  We received our manuals that outlined each topic we would cover throughout the class.  As I briefly paged though it, I was excited to see such a wide range of subjects and I was eager to dive in!  Though the course was also available in an on-line form, I chose to attend the classes in person.  I found that I really enjoyed the camaraderie.

On Saturday, February 8th the core course ended and I had successfully completed all 16 modules,   I was a little sad because I had made many friends during these weekly classes and hoped that I might continue these friendships in the future.

Are you interested in becoming a master gardener?  More information, including the process and timing, is located at