Monday, October 12, 2020

2020: My Year as an Apprentice Master Gardener by Nancy Shepard

Nancy Shepard 

Looking back on almost nine months of being in the Colorado Jefferson County Apprentice Master Gardener program, I started reflecting on what a wonderful experience it’s been. First and foremost, I was most amazed with the PEOPLE in this program. All the CMG’s, instructors, coordinators, CSU staff, mentors and other Apprentice Master Gardeners were the most wonderful set of people I have ever met. Besides the incredible knowledge everyone passed along, their helpfulness, humility, kindness and good humor were like no other group I’ve belonged to. And despite the setbacks that came with the COVID outbreak, they rallied to still make this year’s program a first-rate experience.

I remember early in the year furiously studying the materials, taking notes in the classes and being so worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember all of it.  But now nine months later after doing the volunteer work and attending the extra webinars, I can say that things truly start to stick. I’ve gained confidence in myself as a gardener who will be able to help others, mostly because I know I have a whole team to support me.

Here are some highlights I look back on:

Participating in the Colorado Native Bee Citizen Science program. First by training to identify so many bees and then sitting at plant after plant, recording their behaviors all summer

Pushing myself beyond my usual boundaries of gardening interest and learning about vineyards and grapes for Colorado wine, the vast world of roses which I’ve always stayed away from, plants of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,  and landscape shrubs with berries you can eat

Dr. Whitney Cranshaw’s entomology class – I never knew that insects could be so fun to study!

Expanding my knowledge of the Plant Select program and choosing many more of those specimens for my own yard

Part of Nancy Shepard's wonderful yard 

Learning about fruit tree “pedestrian pruning” by using pruning and limb spreaders to keep branches lower and more horizontal for easy fruit picking

Now with autumn setting in and the apprentice program winding down, I look forward to a winter of continuing to learn by looking at past webinar recordings and reviewing my notes and course materials. I will truly miss the interaction with all the people during this cold time, but know that I will be jumping in again with everyone come spring. Thanks to everyone who have made this program a success for so many years!