- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In a recent article in the Maryland Independent, Earle Knapp was quoted in reference to the Charles County Master Gardeners after being asked a question by Commissioner Debra Davis [“Commissioners distribute largesse to 23 charities,” May 4]. The quote surprised and shocked many members of our group for its insensitivity and lack of knowledge about the Master Gardener program.
One would think with Mr. Knapp’s experience serving on many boards in the county that he would have some knowledge of the Master Gardeners, especially since we did apply for a grant five years ago as he mentioned. In case he has forgotten, or did not take the time to review the grant at that time, I would like to share the following facts about the program.
As is true across the country, Charles County Master Gardeners are part of the land grant university system, which for us is the University of Maryland.
We are trained as educators volunteering our time to address and support any and all horticultural needs in the county. In most counties in our state, there is an employed coordinator, paid for by county government funds as part of their ongoing partnership with University of Maryland Extension. This is not the case in Charles County.
In order to become a Master Gardener, all participants undergo 40 hours of classroom training with daily homework, a research project and a final exam provided by the Extension program.
We also each are required to donate 40 hours as interns volunteering in our county, during which time we learn by doing. Only after these criteria are met are the volunteers certified as Master Gardeners. To remain a Master Gardener, we must volunteer a minimum of 20 hours and participate in 10 hours of advanced training annually.
I want to emphasize that we never accept payment for our services.
We provide educational services for the libraries, public schools, Civista Medical Center, the county jail and any organization that may ask us to present a program.
Although we have been known to plant flowers from time to time, the mission of the organization is to teach sustainability of our environment, promote responsible stewardship of the land, prevent land erosion and promote a better understanding of preserving the Chesapeake Bay through our Bay-Wise program.
Along with working with organizations and public institutions, we also serve the needs of individual citizens throughout the county.
This includes making free site visits to residents who call in with tree diseases, landscape erosion problems, proper use of pesticides and fertilizers and management of invasive plants; we address these problems and many others by researching the situation and/or seeking out expert help through Extension specialists in order to give an accurate, environmentally sound solution.
We believe that Mr. Knapp owes an apology to the county commissioners, the Master Gardeners and especially to Commissioner Davis.
We would be glad to share further information about our services at any time.
Gale S. Kladitis, Pomfret
Barbie Walter, La Plata
The writers, respectively, are chairman of the Charles County Master Gardeners and Maryland educational coordinator for the Charles County Master Gardeners.