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Master Gardeners East and West
Extended Learning’s Master Gardener course has travelled East to West with a second offering of its most popular certificate program.
The Alberta Master Gardener training program caters to participants who have a passion for gardening, want to expand their knowledge in the horticulture field, or want to become a Master Gardener and share their knowledge with their community.
The program, which is 100 percent online, will begin in October and will be instructed by a born and raised Albertan, Colleen Tanner. Courses include the Science of Gardening; Maintaining the Garden; Plant identification and Use, as well as the Art of Gardening.
Colleen, who has 25 years of work experience in the field of horticulture, from growing to commercial landscaping, landscape design and managing a retail nursery has always been an advocate and practitioner of organic gardening. Her passion for horticulture has driven her into the field of teaching to share her love of nature and help others increase biodiversity and sustainability in urban landscapes.
“The fundamentals of the program are the same wherever you are but when it comes to climate and soil Alberta is very unique,” explained Colleen. “Winter chinooks, chilly summer nights, heavy, alkaline soil and drying winds put limitations on growing in our province.”
The training program consists of four independent-study classes which are offered in an online learning environment. Participants can take one course or all courses in the program, catering to their educational needs.
“Albertans can be successful growing as long as they understand the rhythm to our limited gardening days,” added Colleen. “Understanding the history of how the land has evolved and the ever-changing climate is important wherever you live, so with my lifetime experience and research I have adapted this program to make it specific to the Alberta region.
Those who complete the program will earn their Master Gardener Certificate and be eligible for membership in the Master Gardeners Association of Alberta. Master Gardener organizations are a network of associations throughout North America who share a passion for gardening. Volunteers, dedicated to providing horticultural information to the public, run these not-for-profit organizations.
“We are always looking for ways to expand our program reach - bringing continuing education opportunities to learners far and wide,” explained Tracy Kittilsen, Manager Extended Learning, Faculty of Agriculture. “We have offered this program to the Ontario and Atlantic regions for many years now, so when we were presented with this opportunity to explore expanding to Alberta, we ran with it. Our hope is that our Master Gardener program will continue with it’s legacy of providing quality and accessible training to those in Alberta who wish to become certified Master Gardeners.”
A small business owner, Colleen specializes in custom-designed seasonal containers including the ever popular winterscape designs that adds a fourth season to our Canadian gardens. Presently, she is working in the sales division of Bylands Nurseries Ltd., a plant producer with superior environmental initiatives.
“Passionate individuals with a love of gardening looking to elevate their education would be very interested in these courses,” said Colleen. “They are in-depth and there is a lot of work involved, so someone who is dedicated to horticulture and is able to self study will find them beneficial.”
Online learning has many avenues through which teachers and students may interact with each other and adapt their level of learning to what suits them accordingly. Although gardening is a very-hands on experience, one still needs to know and understand the fundamentals behind it to apply once they are in the garden.
Adult education has the added advantage of everyone sharing their knowledge and experience with each other, advancing their education that much more. With the principles of gardening learned throughout the program a student will be ready to apply their knowledge and have the problem-solving tools necessary to help manage their future experiences.
“Participants who complete the program will understand the art and science of gardening in our province along with environmental responsibility, sustainable gardening techniques and an appreciation of local horticultural issues,” added Colleen.