Jason Powell, horticulturalist, and owner of Petals from the Past Nursery discussing native plant species.

Bibb County Extension hosted the Fall 2023 Master Gardener program this year. The Master Gardener program is offered by Alabama Cooperative Extension System and is a 10-week hybrid course. Spring and fall master gardener courses are offered in counties across the state. Interns watch one online seminar per week followed by a weekly quiz taken online. Interns meet in person at the Extension office each week to ask questions, work on projects or go on field trips. The course includes research-based gardening information on topics such as home lawns, trees, shrubs, annual and perennial flowers, and vegetable gardening. Interns must complete 50 hours of volunteer work over the course of one year, pass all quizzes, and attend at least seven of the labs to become a certified master gardener. To remain an active master gardener, you must complete 25 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of continuing education annually. Garden University is a similar program for those that do not want the certification or may not have time for volunteer hours. It offers the webinars without the labs and volunteer times. 

2023 Bibb Master Gardener Class with Chilton Master Gardeners at UWA Cahaba Biodiversity Center.

Bibb had four interns in the fall 2023 class, bringing the total of people that have taken the course in Bibb County to thirty-two, of which eleven are certified master gardeners. Field trips were taken by the interns to Petals from the Past Nursery in Jemison, Chilton Research and Experiment Station in Clanton, and to the University of West Alabama Cahaba Biodiversity Center. Counties with active master gardener organizations help with community beautification projects such as installing flower beds at the library, or hospital. Master gardeners do not provide maintenance service. They will design and install plants, but then it is up to the organization to weed and water. Some master gardener groups help schools start container gardens or give “Lunch and Learn” programs over the noon hour for folks to attend and learn about gardening topics. Additionally, master gardeners help with other Extension programs, such as 4-H or filling in for the administrative assistant in the office.  It is a great program to learn more about gardening, help beautify your community and discover what a great resource Alabama Extension provides! Bibb County will host a master gardener program in the Fall of 2024. Registration will begin in May.  

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As the Bibb County Coordinator for Alabama Extension, Michelle Giddens coordinates the implementation of all Extension programs in Bibb County in many program areas. These program areas include 4-H and Youth Development, Animal Sciences, Food Safety and Quality, Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, Family and Child Development, Family Resource Management and Workforce Development, Commercial Horticulture, Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, Farm and Agribusiness Management, and Community and Economic Development. Her experience includes with the eXtension Initiative at the University of Nebraska and with the eXtension Foundation; California State University, Fresno and Central Community College in Grand Island, NE. She currently serves on the board for Brierfield Fire and Rescue, a volunteer fire department serving Brierfield and Six Mile communities in Alabama