Smith County Horticulturist
Consider the following: Do you like to share with friends, young people or others your interest in plants and gardening? Would you like to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants? Would you like to participate in a practical and intensive horticulture-training program? Do you have time to attend a two-month training session? And, are you willing and able to complete 72 hours of volunteer work for the AgriLife Extension Service Smith County office within a year after the training?
If you answered yes to all questions, the Master Gardener program is for you.
Master Gardeners share research-based information through programs and activities, school projects, gardening publications, research and demonstration gardens, and by answering requests for gardening information at the Smith County Extension office.
Master Gardener trainees receive 72 hours of instruction in home horticulture from AgriLife Extension specialists, staff, Master Gardeners and local experts. Topics include plant growth and development; lawn care; ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers; insect, disease and weed management; soils and plant nutrition; vegetable gardening; home fruit production; composting; plant propagation; pruning; diagnosing plant problems; landscape maintenance and more.
The $150 fee includes the 450-plus page “Texas Master Gardener Handbook.” After completing training, interns must give 72 hours (within one year) of service in Smith County.
During their first year, Master Gardener interns answer inquiries in the Extension office for information about gardening and help maintain demonstration gardens in the Tyler Rose Garden.
Master Gardeners also staff plant clinics and information tables and create displays for events such as the Our Secret Garden exhibit at the East Texas State Fair which teaches children about the role of horticulture and garden plants in their lives. Master Gardeners also address groups and conduct workshops and seminars. They may work with 4-H, Junior Master Gardeners and other youth groups.
You may have seen the Master Gardener Tip of the Week and What's Blooming in Our Garden articles written by Smith County Master Gardeners in this and other newspapers.
Currently, there are 158 certified and interning Master Gardeners in Smith County.
Master Gardeners represent AgriLife Extension, which is part of the Texas A&M System, and provide only recommendations of AgriLife Extension. The title Master Gardener only can be used by volunteers engaged in Extension activities.
Participants become certified Texas Master Gardeners by fulfilling training and their volunteer commitment. The certification is good for one year and is renewed through continued participation.
The next class will begin on Jan. 10. Most, but not all, classes will be held 1 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday through March 14. For information or an application, call the Smith County Extension office at 903-590-2980, write, or come by the office in the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116, Tyler, TX 75702.
Applications are available on the Programs section of East Texas Gardening web site (http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu), under Educational Programs and News.
The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 14. Class size is limited. Preference is given to Smith County residents.
If you live in a nearby county, contact your county Extension agent. Master Gardener programs are in all counties surrounding Smith County.
All who are interested must attend an orientation meeting at 2 p.m. on Nov. 28 in the Smith County Cotton Belt Building, Room 116.
Keith Hansen is Smith County Horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu His Blog is http://agrilife.org/etg.