The Ohio State University extends itself into every county in the state–all 88 of them.  These are called–what else–extension offices and they offer information, advice and services to local residents.  This can cover agriculture & natural resources, community development, nutrition, family & consumer science, 4-H programs–a whole bunch of things.  It’s the largest non-formal education system in the world.  You can learn a lot there!  

And it has a history.  Right in the middle of the Civil War, 1862, the U.S. Congress passed the Morrill Act which established in each state a university to provide “agricultural and mechanical” education for its citizens (That’s why you hear of those “A&M” universities, mostly during football season).  The Ohio State University is ours   and it’s done the job pretty darn well.  In 1887 the Hatch Act established research farms to further the mission of these universities (Ours in the OARDC in Wooster), in 1914 The Ohio State University Extension was organized and authorized and in 1928 the Capper Act aimed to provide agricultural and home economics information programs for all, men, women, boys and girls (featuring 4-H, begun by another Ohio guy, A.B. Graham) in the state of Ohio.


So, in 1986 the OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program began in Cuyahoga County…and the rest is history.  You can find Master Gardeners everywhere–my sister’s one in Erie County.  They have programs of all sorts, even for “black-thumbers” like me.  The Geauga County cohort is particularly active and has been offering interesting programs, so I thought I’d take a look.  I chose to visit the session on Make Your Own Garden Art and Take It Home at the Patterson Center in Burton

The object was to create birdbaths, fountains and bubblers for your very own lawn/garden/outdoor retreat with materials that you could pick up at a garden supply place or in the pile of stuff that you’ve been meaning to do something with for ages (I have plenty of this.).

There were Lots-A-Pots.  There were ceramic ones, plastic ones, sculpted ones, plain-Jane red tile ones, colored ones in interesting shades, tall ones, short, pot-bellied ones (Well, what would you expect?).  Quite an assortment…and quite an assortment (twenty, more or less, only one guy) of water feature-fanciers there bent on creating a personalized aquatic accessory for home or garden..  They had pots, they had liners, they had saucers and risers and stones.  They wielded cordless drills, positioned submersible pumps, pushed plastic tubing through holes, arranged shells and various décor items in their projects.  Plenty of artistic advice circulated; problems were solved, designs were evaluated, tips were shared (Put tape where you plan to drill; this prevents fracturing where you don’t want fractures).  Master Gardeners circulated; the crafters of the fountains, birdbaths and bubblers seemed to be having a fine time.

Go visit these people.  See if the birds, frogs and toads approve the additions to their habitat.  The folks who crafted them sure did.  Watch for more programs coming up.  They have offerings on wisteria , common mistakes (Can we all relate to this?), vertical gardening, a hike through Nelson Ledges coming up soon.  Check out the Portage County office too, could be a whole different menus of possibilities.  Become a Master Gardener yourself.  Go Green!