Master Gardener: Transplant finds roots


May 5, 2023

Greetings. My name is Sue Tracy, and I am a science teacher and a Master Gardener. I have a master’s degree in science education from Montana State University. I teach part-time at both Wrenshall Schools and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Becoming a Master Gardener was a great decision for me and at a time when I needed help the title provided. When my family moved to Michigan, I accepted a teaching position at an agricultural high school that had a landscape/horticulture class. The teacher I was replacing was himself a Master Gardener and had created a beautiful courtyard at the school. Besides the courtyard there was a field of raspberries and asparagus.

Being a comprehensive biology major, I had taken botany in my undergraduate coursework. Understanding that botany was not landscaping or horticulture, I joined the Michigan Master Gardeners. So, for the next 10 Saturdays I completed the core program.

Like the University of Minnesota Extension’s course, the program provides extensive training starting with an overview of botany, soil science, integrated pest management, plant reproduction, and working through many modules dealing with several types of plants.

It was and is a great program for revealing how little one knows about plants.

From there, I gained the knowledge and experience needed to instruct my students for many years and shared my love of gardening with others through my volunteering. When my family moved to Minnesota 15 years ago, I transferred my certification. But with family, work, and other obligations, I let my certification lapse. I still gardened and I had the pleasure of teaching a landscape/horticulture class at Wrenshall Schools.

When I decided to semi-retire in 2020, I wanted to pick up my Master Gardener certification once again. So, I took the course again and learned lots of new things. I have now been a Carlton County Master Gardener for three years.

Master Gardening is a fascinating hobby because you are always learning something new. In addition, information learned is based upon research and science conducted at the university, arboretum, and other research locations. They teach sustainability and provide measures to protect the environment.

While in Michigan, the emphasis was on soil management, proper fertilizing, and the Emerald Ash Borer. Now, I am learning and teaching important ways to garden with native plants and to save our pollinators.

If you have any plant questions or need help, give us a call at the Carlton County Extension office. If you love gardening and getting to know new things and new people, you might want to check out what the Carlton County Master Gardener program has to offer.


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