Becoming a Master Gardener

Sunday, August 4, 2019 8:32 AM

From time to time, I hear about Tulsa County Master Gardeners.  Can you inform me about what they do and how to join that organization?     Rhonda B., Tulsa

Even though the Tulsa County Master Gardeners have been around since 1983, many in the community are not familiar with our organization, mission and activities.  Numbering just over 400, these Master Gardeners are volunteer educators trained by Oklahoma State University whose mission is to provide OSU Extension research-based horticultural information to local home gardeners and the community.

Education is our primary mission.  As such, you will find us around town at various venues such as the HBA Spring Home & Garden show, in K-5 classrooms, and in Senior Living Centers.  As an example of our outreach, in 2018 we were in 87 different schools and 754 classrooms teaching a variety of science-based classes to almost 18,000 elementary school students throughout Tulsa County. Additionally, each year we host an Insect Adventure on the Fairgrounds for over 1,000 elementary school students, helping them gain a respect for the wonderful variety of insects with which we share this planet and the many benefits they provide. On the other end of the age spectrum, we were also in 30 assisted living centers interacting with about 400 seniors to provide a little horticultural therapy, which brightens both their day as well as ours.

Another way we fulfill that mission is by staffing a Horticultural Diagnostic Center at the Tulsa County OSU Extension office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Here you can find Master Gardeners on hand to answer your questions via phone, e-mail, or in person. And, while there, located just outside you will find our beautiful Master Gardener maintained Demonstration Instructional Garden (DIG) containing over 200 annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees.

We also teach a variety of classes in the spring and fall called the “Lunch and Learn” series at the Downtown Tulsa Central Library, as well as yearly Urban Gardener classes at the Extension Office whose topics include plant biology, soil chemistry, growing fruits and vegetables, lawn care, trees and shrubs, flowers, and container gardening.

Other activities include providing educational boots at various festivals around town or, in May, you may have visited one of our homes on the Master Gardener Garden Tour. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity, we make sure these new homeowners don’t just get a house but also a beautifully landscaped front yard in order to make it their own home.  In an effort to help beautify Tulsa, the Master Gardeners spend hours planting and maintaining beautiful flowers in planters along Brookside and in the Downtown Blue Dome district.

So, now that you know what a Tulsa Master Gardener does, are you interested in becoming one yourself?  On August 7th at 1:00 pm and on August 14th at 10:00 am you may attend a presentation at the OSU Extension Office (4116 East 15th Street) where you can learn about the requirements to become a Tulsa Master Gardener and fill out an application. This enrollment only occurs once a year so, if you have an interest, be sure to attend one of these presentations.

You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 East 15th Street, or by e-mailing us at mg@tulsamastergardeners.org.