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paul wheaton
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I seem to remember reading somewhere that the fantastic Helen Atthowe is on sabbatical.  And, through other sources, I get the impression that Helen has moved. 

So which is correct?  Is there a new extension agent?

 
Greg M Peters
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Helen is still listed on the contact list of the Extension Office Web Site

http://missoulaeduplace.org/index.shtml

 
Jess Folmar
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I'm currently taking the Master Gardener course offered through the extension service. Helen taught the first few classes, but from what I understand is now retired from the Extension office and getting ready to move. Not sure if/how long she's in town.
 
paul wheaton
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So, Helen is currently in town and is currently teaching the master gardener stuff?

I'm a graduate of Helen's 1996 class!  It was excellent then, and I suspect it is even better now!
 
Greg M Peters
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What do you learn in a masters gardener class?  Is it worth it for hobby gardeners?  Is it vegetable focused or flower focused?  How much does it cost?  And finally, is there a shorter, less involved class that maybe doesn't teach as much, but is less of a time commitment?

Thanks
 
Jess Folmar
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I believe Helen is still in town, but we're having guest lecturers for the remainder of the MG gardener class at this point.  I wish she were teaching the entire thing as she is such a wealth of knowledge and experience!

In answer to your question Greg, it is certainly worth it for a hobby gardener.  The cost is $100 and covers the purchase of an extensive and useful manual, put together by Helen, and a 10 week course, occurring Tuesday evenings 6:00-9:00 and a pruning workshop at a local nursery.  At the end, you have the option to take the certification test, and if you pass it will give you the title of Certified Master Gardener, which can certainly be useful if you're working in farming, nursery, or landscaping industry. (This is the way the one for Missoula county is set up at least.  There's an MG course run through the state extension office that most other counties use.) The topics covered are vegetable gardening, landscaping with plants suitable/native to our local environment, soil health, fruit tree and bramble care, turf maintenance, pest and disease management, etc. all with a sustainable/organic focus.

let me know if you have any other questions I can answer about it.  As far as I know there's not really anything else offered around here similar in nature. I'm in the middle of the course now, and i believe they only teach it once a year, so you should definitely keep an eye out for the next one.
 
paul wheaton
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The materials that helen hands out are worth at least $100.  Helen has composed some stuff that is amazingly advanced.  And that was 14 years ago.  I'm sure that the materials she has now are far, far better. 

If I knew helen was gonna be teaching even a few of the classes, I would have slapped down the hundred smackers and tried to get in to take it again. 

 
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