GREG GRANT, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
It’s that time of year again, when the Smith County Master Gardener program is seeking applicants who want to become part of a highly trained core of enthusiastic volunteers who assist the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in conducting educational gardening programs in Smith County.
Consider the following: Do you like to share your interest in gardening with others wanting to learn? Would you like to learn more about the culture and maintenance of various plants? Would you like to participate in an intensive horticultural training? Do you have time to attend a three-month training, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Thursday, starting Jan. 4? Are you willing to complete 72 hours of volunteer work for the Smith County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service within a year after the training?
If you answered yes to all these questions, the Master Gardener program is for you. The Smith County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is seeking applicants who would like to use their knowledge and experience to teach others about gardening in exchange for experienced horticultural training available.
The Master Gardener program, sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, is a volunteer program whereby trained volunteers provide research-based home-gardening information to the residents of Smith County. This is done through various programs and activities such as workshops, seminars, a speaker’s bureau, school projects, research and demonstration gardens and answering individual requests for gardening information at the Smith County Extension office.
Participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed both the training and internship by fulfilling their volunteer commitment. The certification is good for one year and is renewed through continued participation in horticulture classes and volunteering.
The 2018 Smith County Master Gardener class will begin Jan. 4. Most, but not all, of the classes will be every Thursday afternoon from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 19. A $150 fee includes the 450-plus page “Texas Master Gardener Handbook.”
For a complete schedule, information packet and an application, call the Smith County Extension office at 903-590-2980 or come by the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116, in Tyler.
The deadline for submitting applications is Dec. 9. Applicants will be notified by Dec. 15 if they are accepted into the program. Class size is limited and preference will be given to qualified Smith County residents with gardening experience, a desire to educate and time to volunteer. A required orientation meeting for potential Master Gardeners will be held at the Smith County AgriLife Extension office from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 30. If you are interested in applying, make plans to attend.
Plan to attend the East Texas Garden Lecture Series Saturday to hear Dawn Stover, of SFA Gardens, speak on “Planting for Pollinators in a Post-Wild World.”
Registration is at 8:30 a.m. at the Tyler Rose Garden. Cost is $15 and includes a book and magazine. The program should be over by 11 a.m.
Dawn calls herself “the crazy bee lady” and is a big fan of native bees and butterflies.
Greg Grant is the Smith County horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. You can follow him on Facebook at “Greg Grant Gardens.” He writes a monthly blog titled “Greg’s Ramblings” at arborgate.com and writes “In Greg’s Garden” for Texas Gardener magazine (texasgardener.com).