I wanted to become a Master Gardener for two reasons: to create an urban habitat and to grow my own food. I felt both of these skills were crucial to building a sustainable Milwaukee. Yet, before taking the course, I didn’t know how to actually do either of them. I had some experience gardening growing up and learned a few things from research, fellow gardeners, and attempts as an adult. But I realized I needed some official education if I really wanted to transform my urban yard. Hello UW-Extension Master Gardener Program!

I took the Level 1 Training Course last fall and my eyes were opened to so many subjects! Once you start taking the course you’re a “Master Gardener in Training” and you’ll learn about subjects from general gardening practices to botany and insects. And oh my goodness, every instructor that came in to speak on these subjects was incredible. They were so knowledgeable, passionate, and eager to share. I was so inspired by their enthusiasm and expertise.

To become “certified” you have to complete the course, pass the final exam, and then complete 24 hours of volunteer work. I finished the course in December, and as of February 3rd, I’ve officially passed the final exam. Yay! Now I get to apply what I’ve learned through volunteering. I can’t wait to get started!

I feel strongly about preparing today’s youth for the future so I’m joining the Youth Committee. Alice’s Garden has a beautiful mission and I’d love to volunteer there. The Pollinator and Invasives Committees are also really appealing to me. Milwaukee’s ecosystem is threatened by the loss of pollinators and invasive plants. I’d love to see what I can do to help curb this within my own yard and beyond. Committees meet next in March so I’ll be able to get involved then!

If I complete all of the volunteer hours by October, I’ll become a certified Master Gardener. There’ll even be a graduation ceremony the following February – cute! My journey has really only just begun, but I already feel better equipped to create an urban habitat and grow my own food. The science and research backed resources the Master Gardener program offers are great tools for building a sustainable Milwaukee. Follow along if you’re interested in learning more about them!