MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137
CONTACT: Barbara Bromley
(609) 989-6830

LAWRENCE, NJ -- Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and County Horticulturist Barbara J. announce the opportunity for Mercer County residents, with an interest in horticulture and the desire to share their knowledge in service to others, to enroll in the Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program for 2012. The 21-week training program, which is offered through Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County, will begin at the end of September 2011 and continue into March 2012. The Master Gardener program was created to meet an enormous increase in requests from home gardeners for horticultural information, and extends to the community the educational efforts of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County by using trained and certified volunteers.

Trainees receive over 60 hours of instruction in a wide variety of horticultural subjects. The teaching staff includes Bromley, County agricultural agents, faculty from Rutgers University, and other horticultural experts. Classes meet Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mercer County Cooperative Extension office, 930 Spruce Street, Lawrence (adjacent to the Trenton Farmers Market).

Following the classroom instruction, trainees volunteer 60 hours with Mercer County Extension or related programs, including at least 30 hours providing information to the public on the Rutgers Master Gardener Helpline. Trainees also volunteer five hours of composting service at the award-winning Mercer Educational Gardens in Pennington.

Mercer County residents are given priority and are admitted in the order in which applications are received. Class size is limited to 30 people. The deadline for submitting applications is September 2, 2011. A $200.00 tuition fee is due with the application. This fee includes the cost of the training manual, supplies and speakers. Scholarship opportunities may be available. Information about the program is available on the Master Gardeners of Mercer County website at Applications and program descriptions are available at the Extension office or can be requested by calling 609-989-6830, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.