Volunteer Spotlight -Public Events with Master Gardener Volunteers

by Ann Barnes

Durham Master Gardeners are looking for new volunteers! Our next training class begins in January 2017. in the next few months, this blog will spotlight some of the many ways our volunteers help our community. If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer (EMGV) in Durham, please click the link below for more information:

Become A Master Gardener

The Public Events committee is responsible for marketing and coordinating activities where EMGVs are asked to provide research based assistance to the public directly. Volunteers can be found at many events and locations around Durham County, including at the Farmers’ Market, Sarah P. Duke Gardens, the Festival for the Eno, as well as at corporate, school, and neighborhood events. Last month, two of our volunteers spent some time at the “Birds, Butterflies, Bees, and Blooms” event which was sponsored by the  Wildlife Habitat Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Photos from Birds, Butterflies, Bees, and Blooms

This wonderful event brought a diverse group of professionals together with one purpose in mind—to provide information about the
critical importance of pollinators and what steps we can take to increase their chances for survival now and in the future.  From beekeepers to wildlife experts,
conservation groups, and plant experts, all were ready to share their passion for restoring and preserving habitats for pollinators and birds.
-Deborah Pilkington, EMGV

Deborah Pilkington volunteered along with Tina Falker. Both volunteers answered questions and provided research based gardening information to attendees, with a focus on pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants. As Event Captain, Falker was also responsible for transporting educational materials prepared for this event by the Public Events Committee.

This was a lively, well-attended event and we talked to 32 people. Many were interested in adding pollinator-friendly plants to their living space… which ranged from an apartment balcony to a house in the “country”.  – Tina Falker, EMGV

Both volunteers signed up for this event because, as Pilkington says, “I love to volunteer at these events because I have a real passion for pollinators and birds, and the gardens that sustain them. I also learn a lot from the other experts at events like these”. Plus, Falker pointed out “It was held indoors!”, which is always appealing on a hot summer day.

I enjoy talking with people about gardening… what are their latest successes? Challenges? Will this humidity ever end, and will it ever be cool again? I especially like to help “transplants” avoid the mistakes that I’ve made. I also like to encourage people not to give up if they’ve had limited gardening success in the past… even experienced gardeners kill plants, so don’t give up! Ask questions, learn from your mistakes, and be realistic when it comes to planning a garden. One or two potted plants may be just right for now! – Tina Falker

EMGVs who enjoy volunteering for public events often say that they love talking about gardening and answering questions – and some of us do so wherever we go. If this sounds like a volunteer opportunity you would love, consider joining the Durham EMGVs!

Here’s that link again: https://durhammastergardeners.wordpress.com/become-a-master-gardener/



Learn With Us, week of March 29


Getting Dirty with Durham County Master Gardeners Radio Show – MARCH 31  Sadly too often we are confronted with ugly gardening practices.  Crepe Murder may be one of the highest crimes committed by the unknowing.  Dan Mason brings us a tale of murder. Broadcasts Tuesdays at 2:00pm on WCOM 103.5  Can be heard live or replayed any time at http://gettingdirtyradioshow.org

Ornamentals & Landscape Design – Complete Extension Gardener Series
Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Where: Durham County Cooperative Extension, 721 Foster Street, Durham, NC
Not sure where to begin when it comes to placing plants in the landscape? This introduction to landscape design will enhance your understanding of the principles behind landscape design.
Free/ Registration required.
Contact: Pana Jones prjones2@ncsu.edu / 919-560-0525


Educational Opportunities, Week of 9/22/14

Canker Worm Workshop
Monday, Sep 22, 2014 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Where: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC
Cankerworms are becoming a growing problem in Durham. They are those nuisance inch worms that appear in the spring and defoliate the trees. To combat this problem there will be a series of workshops to demonstrate how and when to wrap a barrier around you tree to get the biggest impact, learn when and how to glue, and when to remove the barrier so that you don’t girdle the trees
Class is free / registration is required.
Contact: 919-668-1707

Information Session for 2015 Master Gardener Training
Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Where: Durham County Cooperative Extension, 721 Foster Street, Durham, NC
Have you considered becoming a Durham County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer? Attendance at one of the information sessions is a requirement to apply for the training program. Free/ Registration is required. 919-560-0525

Bulbs in the Landscape – Durham Garden Forum
Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Where: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC, United States
Our program this month is “Bulbs in the Landscape” with Lee Ivey, horticulture instructor North Carolina State University.  Bulbs provide an often underutilized landscape option and Lee will explore some creative ideas you may find useful.  You won’t want to miss this program as we get closer to bulb planting season. This lecture is free for Durham Garden Forum members, all others can attend for a fee of $10.00 ($5.00 for students).nRegistration required Contact durhamgardenforum@gmail.com

Rain Gardens
Thursday, Sep 25, 2014 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Where: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC, United States
A rain garden allows water to percolate down into the ground slowly, recharging your ground water and minimizing the amount of soil and fertilizer that would otherwise be lost through runoff. Explore the beauty and functionality of rain gardens with Master Gardeners Georgeanne Sebastian and Darcey Martin. Class is free. Registration is required 919-668-1707

What We Do – Training



Master Gardener Volunteers attend a 15 week training course comparable to a university horticulture course. Sessions are taught by Extension Agents, university professors, and experienced Master Gardeners. New Interns work with Mentors while providing volunteer service. After completing the training, initial year’s volunteer hours, and continuing education, interns become certified as Extension Master Gardener Volunteers.

Interested candidates must attend one of the remaining required free information sessions in September or October (training starts in January) at the Durham County Extension office at 721 Foster Street:

  • September 18th, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
  • September 23rd, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • October 2nd, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • October 7th, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon

Call 919-560-0525 to register. Training classes will be held on Thursdays, from 9-12:30, January 15 – April 30th (with May 7 & 14 as makeup dates) at the Foster Street office. Applicants must attend one information session, submit their application by November 1, 2014 and if selected, pay the $120 registration fee by December 31.

What Master Gardeners Do – Our Office

Extension Master Gardeners staff an office at 721 Foster Street to help homeowners with gardening questions.  Pictured below, Master Gardeners work with Extension Horticultural Agent Michelle Wallace to diagnose tomato problems brought in by a Durham resident.IMG_0473

The office is an interesting place to volunteer, since you never know what kinds of questions you’ll hear. Sometimes there are are easy answers, while other problems require research and collaboration.

Are you interested in becoming a Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in 2015? Please plan to attend one of our information sessions to be held at 721 Foster St. 

• September 9th, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
• September 18th, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
• September 23rd, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
• October 2nd, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
• October 7th, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon

Call 919-560-0525 to register for an information session.