MANHATTAN—In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansas State University’s Extension Master Gardener program is planning to offer a statewide online training option this fall for those wanting to join the popular group.


Cheryl Boyer, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources and interim coordinator of the state’s Master Gardener program, said weekly online sessions begin Sept. 3 and will run through Dec. 17.


The cost for online training is $45 plus any additional fees set by the county – or about $1 per hour of educational content, she said -- and can be paid at the local extension office. Some counties may offer an in-person or hybrid training option.


For online training, Kansans must sign up through their local extension office by August 28. More information about the program is available online. Training sessions will be held each Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for 15 weeks.


"This online choice is optional and local units are not required to use this training in place of their own programming plans," Boyer said. "However, because fall travel is limited for K-State Research and Extension educators, face-to-face training can not be expected or required."


The K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener program is available to anyone with an interest in horticulture. "If you want to improve your gardening skills and knowledge, and you like to work with people, this program may be for you," Boyer said.


The program is currently offered in more than half of Kansas’ counties.


Once certified as an Extension Master Gardener, participants are asked to donate time in their community to help others learn more about gardening and horticulture. Boyer noted that in 2019, Extension Master Gardeners donated approximately 99,000 hours for a total value of more than $2.6 million.


For more information visit online K-State Research and Extension local offices, www.ksre.k-state.edu/about/stateandareamaps.html.