Residents Explore Colorado Wildflowers Through Native Plant Master Program


by Public Information
comments open from February 19 until March 10

Have you ever wandered down a trail in your favorite Jeffco Open Space Park and wondered what those beautiful wildflowers were? Participants in the Native Plant Master® Program are learning not only the names but also the friends, foes and lifestyles of Colorado wildflowers, trees and shrubs in Native Plant Master® courses offered by Colorado State University Extension, a division of Jeffco Parks. Native Plant Master courses are held in “outdoor classrooms” along trails in various Jefferson County Open Space and other nearby parks.

Participants are also delving deeper into unique topics about Colorado plants by taking a Native Plant Master special class. These classes include introduction to Colorado native plants, plant families, native plant landscaping, plant sketching, basic botany and exploring herbicides for controlling invasive weeds. A webinar on rare plants of Colorado is also offered. NPM courses and classes are taught by CSU faculty, NPM Trainers and other experts.

Participants have very positive reviews of the program. One participant said, “It is the best educational experience I have had through my local Extension office. It is outside, hands-on, taught by passionate, intelligent people, and has real world applications.”

The Native Plant Master (NPM) Program has been growing in response to public demand. This year a total of 24 NPM courses and classes are being offered by Jeffco NPM. The program has grown beyond Jeffco to now cover 12 counties statewide.

Impacts beyond the program have been significant. More than 15,000 citizens are educated each year about native plants. There are 594 volunteer certified Native Plant Masters who educate others as part of their volunteer role. New this year, a Colorado Flora Certificate is offered to anyone completing three courses, without a volunteer commitment.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Native Plant Master Program is that people save money by implementing what they learn in Native Plant Master courses. Last year, participants reported that they saved a combined total of $157,398 by taking actions they learned about in the program including planting sustainable landscapes and controlling invasive weeds. More than 444,000 acres were affected by these activities.

Sustainable landscapes featuring native plants use fewer inputs such as water, fertilizer, pesticides and maintenance. As a bonus, such areas provide food and shelter for wildlife and help preserve Colorado’s biological diversity. Non-native weeds threaten land productivity as well as Colorado’s wealth of natural beauty and native wildlife.

People really do change what they do as a result of the program. It’s a win-win situation for them and for Colorado. One Native Plant Master participant stated, “In my private landscape design/build business, I have incorporated more native plants and communicated to my clients their unique benefits.” Another stated, “The knowledge has been extremely useful in my contact with the community in leading tours in natural areas. People are very interested in controlling and understanding the alien plants in the area.”

If you’re interested in taking a NPM course or class, register early as many offerings have wait lists later in the season. For more details on offerings or to register, see our eventbright registration site. You can also visit the Native Plant Master program’s unique database of research-based information on more than 1,000 Colorado plants at http://coloradoplants.jeffco.us.

Learn more about the Native Plant Master program at www.nativeplantmaster.org or contact the CSU Extension office in Jefferson County at npmassistant@jeffco.us, 303-271-6620. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer who educates others, see the Volunteer Application on the NPM website.

 
 
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