Master Gardener students have another option to learn.

University of Missouri Extension now offers a small-group format for Master Gardeners, says MU Extension horticulture specialist Jim Quinn.

Gardeners meet as a group, and MU horticulture specialists or experienced Master Gardeners guide them through videos from the online Master Gardener class.

Previously, MU Extension only offered the 10- to 14-session class series to groups of a minimum size to reduce expenses and maximize limited resources. Regional specialists in rural areas sometimes traveled for long periods at night for the classes.

The program is in its 33rd year in Missouri. MU Extension trains about 400 gardeners annually through the program, and about 2,000 remain active in the state’s nearly 50 local chapters.

But sometimes it is hard to find enough people able to take the class at the same time in rural areas, says Kathi Mecham, horticulture specialist in the East Central Region.

Mecham taught the first small-group class of seven. She says students enjoyed the social interaction and learning about gardening together.

Janet Shulse Golian, a Master Gardener who serves on the Ralls County Extension Council, says she loves the idea of the small-group format. Interested gardeners often had to wait a long time for 10 people to enroll for a class in her rural area, she says.

This gives enthusiastic gardeners an opportunity to get involved in Master Gardener sooner, she says.

“We have a ball,” she says.

The fall online session of Master Gardener begins Aug. 28. Registration is due by Aug. 19. For more information, go to Various counties around the state begin classes in August or September. Contact your county extension center for more information.

About Master Gardener

The MU Department of Horticulture (now Plant Sciences) established the Missouri Master Gardener program in 1983.

Master Gardeners receive classroom training and complete 30 hours of volunteer service each year.