MANSFIELD — The Richland County Master Gardeners are looking for people with a passion for plants and a penchant for serving their community.

A 12-week course for prospective master gardeners starts Jan. 16, hosted by the North End Community Improvement Collaborative. Classes will take place each Monday through April 10, with a few additional sessions on Saturdays. Most classes will be conducted at the Richland County Longview Center; a few will be at Kingwood Center Gardens.

In order to join, participants must go through an interview process and background check.

“It’s mostly getting to know you — what are your interests are, why do you want to become a master gardener, what do you want to get out of it, what your assets are,” said Mona Knuess, president of the Richland County Master Gardeners.

The Master Gardener program is run through Ohio State University Extension offices. The university provides intensive training in horticulture to interested Ohio residents, who then volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities their local OSU Extension county office.

Master gardener candidates do not need prior gardening experience; but a passion for learning about gardening and sharing that knowledge is essential.

The course costs $175 and includes a book gardeners get to keep after the course ends. Participants will attend lectures, complete a group project and take the open-book test to become a certified master gardener.

“It’s not necessarily knowing the information by heart, it’s knowing where to get the information,” Knuess said.

Featured speakers include professors from the Ohio State University’s Wooster Agricultural Technical Institute. The class includes sessions on:

  • botany and plant physiology

  • soil and fertilizer

  • entomology

  • plant pathology

  • propagation

  • houseplants

  • lawns and lawn alternatives

  • herbaceous ornamentals, annuals and bulbs

  • woody ornamentals, trees, shrubs and vines

  • vegetables

  • herbs

  • fruits

Richland County Master Gardener Class 2023 - 1

Knuess said the course typically includes 12 chapters of material. This class will include three additional sessions focused on high tunnel gardening and entrepreneurship.

Knuess described the Richland County Master Gardeners as a group of volunteers and educators dedicated to beautifying the community.

The Richland County cohort volunteers in local community gardens and cares for the nature park at the Richland County Fairgrounds. 

The group has also helped out with the America in Bloom initiative, decorated Kingwood Center Gardens at Christmas and lent a hand at Malabar Farm.

Knuess said she enjoys getting to network with other gardeners and visit different sites for inspiration.

“Each month we have a meeting and most months we have been doing tours whether it’s a prairie or a greenhouse or someone’s garden,” she said.

For more information on the Master Gardener program or to sign up for the course, call Mona Knuess at 419-564-3594 or email

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