Even in the era of COVID-19, Master Gardener learning options continue to grow.

Registration is open for online core training classes through University of Missouri Extension. Classes begin Aug. 23 and run through Dec. 31, said David Trinklein, Missouri Master Gardener program coordinator and MU Extension horticulturist. Trinklein teaches the class with Sarah Denkler, MU Extension regional director for southwestern Missouri.

In the past, those interested in becoming Master Gardeners had to attend weeks of classes. However, traveling to a bricks-and-mortar classroom is not practical for everyone. So online classes were born in 2013.

Using an online learning platform called Canvas, MU Extension horticulturists deliver classes as a series of scripted and narrated PowerPoint presentations.

“With online training, you can do the class work whenever it is convenient for you,” Trinklein said. “It is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Topics include basic botany, soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening, fruit production, plant propagation, insects, plant diseases, landscape plants, landscape design and pesticide safety.

After each module, students are tested on their understanding of the materials.

“Trainees are expected to achieve a composite score of at least 70 percent on chapter quizzes,” Trinklein said.

“Master Gardener trainees are also required to donate 30 hours of service, helping others learn to grow,” he said. “Local Master Gardener chapters can help online trainees find volunteer positions so they can meet the service hour requirements.”

Once certified, Master Gardeners continue to learn and share.

“You have to continue to educate yourself and to serve the public,” Trinklein said. To maintain certification, Master Gardeners are required to do six hours of continuing education and 20 hours of community service each year.

The registration deadline is Aug. 16. For more information, visit mg.missouri.edu.