To begin, I am very interested in a slow transition from my current job to a plant-related/horticultural career. I got burned by student loans long ago so formal education that results in a degree is off the table for me right now. I am very interested in furthering my knowledge and if I am going to drop money, I would like good quality education. I have looked into the master gardener program and I am interested. I would probably not attend until 2016 as I have a baby on the way (first one).
I have read some mixed reviews on it though. No one criticized the MG program itself, but there is a lot of disdain it seems for MGs in general. Some say they take the title "Master" too literally and are really just glorified volunteers. Which seems fine to me, honestly as long as the information is sound. Of course, I could also do a PDC, but they seem financially untenable at this point in my life and I would like more "basic gardening" knowledge before I delve into a PDC.
For now I am keeping my job and I want to become better educated. My backyard is my plant playground and my learning space for now. I just wanted to know when the next step should be.
" With all the changes, nothing changes, no matter what you're told."
Howdy Dougan, I was a master gardener in the 1980's in Wyoming. The coarse was free and then we had to do volunteer work in exchange. I thought it was worth while, only thing I did not like was that we "had "to tell people to use chemicals. I usually tried to skirt around that and talk organically. Is the program you are looking at free? Things may have changed since I took mine.
There are a few friends in my community who took the local master gardener program. It was free. The only problem with it for us is that it is given at a facility close to a two hour drive away. They all said that they learned quite a bit from the program. In exchange for the free course, they had to man the phones to answer questions for so many hours a month. I don't recall how many because i wasn't interested in driving two hours each way.
Personally I think the term Master Gardener implies a higher level of expertise than the course provides. I gather that the course is really good for people who aren't experienced, but all the graduated master gardeners here are hardly a master at gardening. Not to belittle them, but the course isn't as expert level as the title implies.
For anyone wanting to learn about gardening, the Master Gardener program is probably a good step to take.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
It looks nice on a resume, (the MG) that's about it. Still something to persuit, but a PDC is going to be much more valuable. The process of obtaining a master gardening certificate will indtroduce you to a useful network of individuals, and may be of use to persuade more common, or legal types. A PDC will also put you in touch with a great network, but you will learn things you never will in a master gardening course. A pdc won't have as much voice (maybe) on a town board per say.
I vote, PDC, and then master gardener. You will have a unique, and sometimes frustrating (conflicting), education and approach to bring to your mg classes.