Eileen Rudnick Interview
Eileen Rudnick is a master gardener. She is affiliated with the South Eastern Wisconsin Master Gardeners. This is not a title you give yourself by the way, but a title that is earned after a 36 hour training course and 24 hours of volunteer service to Wisconsin gardens and projects.
Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by UW-Extension specialists in many aspects of horticulture. They volunteer their time and expertise to a wide variety of community service projects.
This week I had the privilege to interview Eileen Rudnick and find out more about this wonderful program.
Just Julie : “Thank you for chatting with me, Eileen. Could you explain the process that is involved in becoming a master gardener?”
Eileen Rudnick : “Sure, Julie. The first step is to take a 36 hour class that is offered by the University of Wisconsin Extension. By taking the class you are also agreeing to provide 24 hours of volunteer service to Extension approved activities.
This service needs to be completed within a year of doing the course work. There is a test at the end of the class. After doing the initial training you can take other specialty classes. Every class taken, requires additional volunteer hours.”
Just Julie “Do people call you and ask for help to weed their garden?”
Eileen Rudnick (Laughing) “All the time, but that is not what we do. This year we have over 50 approved gardens and projects that we can volunteer to work in. All of our gardens have to have some educational element to them. For instance all plants are labeled with Latin and common names in our gardens. Several of the gardens are at schools and are called youth gardens.
Volunteers plant and maintain the gardens and provide the plant labels. They also talk to visitors and provide written literature about their project to the public.
Some programs are interactive such as the Ronald McDonald House project which has gardens designed with the help of children and activities to encourage their participation in the garden.”
J.J. “ What project do you work on, Eileen?”
E.R. “I volunteer at Eble Farm. Eble Farm is located on the north side of Bluemound Road in Waukesha, WI. It is a 31 acre county park that has four gardens (herbs, vegetables, perennials, and annuals).
The garden themes change from year to year, but all of them are meant to be teaching tools to help home gardeners be more successful at their own gardening activities.”
J.J. “It sounds interesting, Eileen. What else can you tell us about what you do?”
E.R. “It is interesting and informative, I hope. You see the Master Gardener program was created 50 years ago to meet the growing enormous need of home gardeners for horticultural knowledge.
Many people don’t grow up learning about plants anymore and then all the sudden they’re a homeowner or maybe they’ve moved from somewhere else. Often they are unfamiliar with the native plants in their new microenvironment and they will call their local Extension office for advice on what to plant and how to care for it.
Master Gardener volunteers are an important component in the Extension’s ability to provide consumers with up-to-date reliable information so more people can become intelligent gardeners.”
J.J. “Do you enjoy volunteering?”
E.R. “Yes, I do and I also believe that volunteering is very important for the future of our country. There are countless valuable programs all over the country that were once funded by government programs, but have now been abandoned for lack of money.
If these programs are to continue and thrive it will have to be with volunteerism. I believe in what I do and I think the preservation of our green space is critical to our mental and physical well being."
J.J. “Do you know how many Master Gardener volunteers there are in Wisconsin?”
E.R. “There are almost 3,000 trained MGV’s this year and another 800 that are working to complete their initial certification.”
J.J. “ Wow! That adds up to a lot of volunteerism!”
E. R. “Yes it does! Master Gardeners in Wisconsin volunteered over 200,000 hours last year to UW-Extension and their communities.”
J.J. “That is amazing. If someone was interested in learning more about the master gardener program what should they do, Eileen?”
E. R. “For more information, visit the Southeast Wisconsin Master Gardeners website at: http://fyi.uwex.edu/sewmg”
J.J. “So that’s it folks. Now you know what it is to be a master gardener. It was a pleasure talking to you, Eileen. Happy Gardening everyone!”
E. R. “You too, Julie!”
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