Special to the Mirror

The Ellis County Master Gardener Association is seeking students for 2008 Master Gardener Training Program.

The program is open to anyone and seeks to train people to help others with horticulture questions and problems. The deadline for the February classes is Jan. 11, and tuition is $100.

"Texas Master Gardeners are trained members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens," said Jim Suggs, Ellis County Master Gardener. "They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and to help others, and are able to communicate with diverse groups of people."

The time commitment is every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the month of February. Additionally, trainees will be asked to complete 75 hours of volunteer service before graduating from the Master Gardener program.

"The Master Gardener training program equips participants with horticultural knowledge in plant selection, proper planting methods, disease and weed management, ornamental trees and shrubs, plant identification methods, fertilization, water conservation, soil and plant nutrition, pruning methods, and much more," said Suggs.

"This is a great opportunity for community gardening enthusiasts to gain an increased knowledge in horticulture, improve their gardening skills and develop a better understanding of the gardening issues Ellis County faces," he added. "The program goal is to develop a pool of well trained Master Gardeners prepared to serve the residents of Ellis County.

The Master Gardener program offers members numerous methods for obtaining their volunteer hours while serving Ellis County.

Application forms are available on the Ellis County Master Gardener's Web site at www.ECMGA.com, or by calling 972-825-5175.

Class size is limited, and attendance is required at all sessions to complete the program. Deadline for application is Jan. 11, but classes fill quickly and applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.