CSU Extension Native Plant Master Course

Hi, I’m Barbara Fahey with Colorado State
University Extension. Twenty years ago, the Native Plant Master Program was
created right here in Jefferson County, Colorado. There’s a real need for
education about native plants and invasive weeds. Water is a scarce
resource in Colorado. We’re a dry state, we have a dry climate, but a lot of our
population in metro areas and rural areas choose to have beautiful landscaped yards, but these yards are one of the prime sources of water used for
residences. And so the Native Plant Master Program is teaching people about
sustainable landscaping and about how native plants can be used in your yard
to reduce the amount of water you use at home. So when we’re teaching native plant
courses we, we kind of teach several different things. One is plant ID, because
most people want to know what are these wildflowers and plants that I’m looking
at, at these sites. The second is the weeds and the impact that the weeds have
on the plants, and thirdly using these landscape plants to create the
sustainable landscape, just realizing that a lot of nurseries do carry native
plants now. We’ve come a long way, used to have to really hunt for native plants
and now pretty much every nursery carries at least some native plants. I think the class is really fun. You’re outside, we do meet three Saturdays in a
row and each class is four hours. We only cover 45 plants usually during that
time because we spend time on the plants and really learning about them, but most
people retain them quite well. Oh, it’s great.
I mean it’s a, just the right size and you get to see things that I see every
day but now I know what they are. I think the, the interactions too with other
classmates but it’s like this is a neat group, like we have some weed
experts here, actually three I think, weed experts and you know everybody brings a
passion and a love for plants but in different ways and
it’s so neat to meet other plant lovers and kinda share that knowledge back and
forth. I think the teaching is outstanding. And the fact that you can
actually be outside and learn while you’re outside in the areas where the
plants grow is one of the you know, best features of the program. We have a
train-the-trainer model for volunteers in the Native Plant Master Program in
which we educate those that are interested in going out and educating
other people. So we have a huge impact. Some of the impacts that the Native Plant Master Program has had in the state over the years have been over
1,600 participants taught, over $31,000 in savings reported by participants and
that’s actually just over the last year, over 14,000 943 acres were impacted just
this last year by sustainable landscaping or invasive weed control, and
there were over 16,000 educational contacts made by volunteers.
I have volunteers that volunteer at Black Canyon of the Gunnison and at Colorado National Monument, so we’re being represented to people all over the
nation really, because they’re coming here to the Western Slope to
visit these great features that we have, and they’re being spoken to by somebody
that went through our program that has some knowledge of native plants. I really
hope that the Native Plant Master Program continues for a long time in
Colorado. It’s unique to Colorado State University, it’s not offered anywhere
else in the United States, and we hear over and over again from our
participants how much they value this program. It’s a program with a growing
demand, people want it, they want more of it, and we see a bright future for the
program.

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