Dates Set for 2017 Panhandle Master Gardener Training Program

Nebraska Extension is offering the Master Gardener Training Program beginning in February at Scottsbluff, Alliance and Sidney.

Weekly sessions in February and March will provide research-based horticulture education, preparing Master Gardener volunteers to share their knowledge with others in the community.

In exchange for the training, Master Gardeners are asked to volunteer to their communities, working with local Extension educators, solving problems or giving information. Some give talks or workshops to the public or write news articles about topics such as house plants, flowers, vegetable gardening or other horticulture-related subjects.

Please pre-register by Jan. 31 by calling the local county extension office. Residents of other states are welcome as well.

The training fee is $40 for either fundamental or proficient sessions. The cost to attend both sets of sessions is $55.  Individual sessions are $15 each. Participants can purchase an optional Master Gardener Handbook as a reference. At the end of the training sessions, Master Gardeners are required to give 40 hours of volunteer service. 

 Anyone who is interested or who has questions can contact Gary Stone, Extension Educator in Scotts Bluff County, at 308-632-1230; Karen DeBoer, Extension Educator in Cheyenne-Kimball-Banner counties, at 308-254-4455; or John Thomas, Extension Educator in Box Butte County, at 308-762-5616.

A brochure with more information and a registration form is available on the web at or at Extension offices in Scottsbluff, Alliance and Sidney.

A series of six fundamental training sessions will take place on Tuesday evenings from Feb. 7 through March 21, from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Alliance Extension Office, the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, and at the Western Nebraska Community College in Sidney. This is designed for new Master Gardeners and will cover basic horticultural information. The training will be offered via the internet, with local UNL Extension Educators at each of the sites to help answer questions. Topics include:

  • Feb. 7: Plant Diagnostics, Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator.
  • Feb. 14: Turf Basics, Bill Kreuser, Extension Turf Grass Specialist.
  • Feb. 21: Small Fruit Production, Connie Fisk, Extension Educator.
  • Feb. 28: Soil Basics, Brian Krienke, Extension Educator.
  • March 7: Landscape Design, Elizabeth Killinger, Extension Educator.
  • March 21: Insect Physiology, Pesticides and Pollinators, Jonathan Larson and Natalia Bjorkland, Extension Educators.

Proficient Master Gardener training sessions will be Feb. 27, March 6, March 20, and March 24 at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Each session starts at 10 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m. (except for the March 24 session, which runs from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.). The topics are designed for advanced Master Gardeners; however, they are open to everyone. Topics include:

  • Feb. 27: Tree Insects, Jeff Bradshaw, Extension Entomologist; Pesticide Safety, John Thomas and Gary Stone, Extension Educators; and Indoor Plant Care, Elizabeth Killinger, Extension Educator.
  • March 6: High Tunnels, Hoop Houses and Cold Frames, Jeff Edwards, University of Wyoming Extension; Pruning Trees and Shrubs, Amy Seiler, Community Forestry Specialist, Nebraska Forest Service.
  • March 20: Vegetable Cultivars for Western Nebraska, David Lott, Extension Educator; Soil Testing and Interpreting Soil Tests, Bijesh Maharjan, Soils and Nutrient Specialist; and Judging Field Crops and 4-H Relations, Jim Schild, Extension Educator, and Jana Schwartz, 4-H Associate. 
  • March 24: Roses and Rose Care, Kim Todd, Extension Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator; County Fair Floriculture Judging, Natalia Bjorklund, Extension Educator; and Plants with Multiple Purposes, Terri James, Landscape Specialist