Master Gardeners

The Smith County Master Gardeners maintain a first class Japanese maple collection at the Tyler Botanical Garden in the Tyler Rose Garden.

It’s that time of year again, when the award-winning 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 horticultural programs in Smith County.

Consider the following. Do you enjoy gardening? Do you like to share your interest in gardening with others wanting to learn? Do you like answering questions, public speaking, and talking on the phone? Would you like to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many kinds of plants both ornamental and edible? Would you like to participate in an intensive horticultural training? Do you have time to attend a three-month training from 9-4 each Thursday, starting January 7th, 2021? 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 and continue volunteering each year?

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, time, and experience to teach others about gardening in exchange for experienced horticultural training.

The Master Gardener program, sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, is a volunteer program whereby trained volunteers provide science and 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 gardens, bedding plant trials, the Tyler Botanical Garden, 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 volunteer participation any paying annual dues to the Smith County Master Gardener Association.

The 2021 Smith County Master Gardener class will begin Thursday, January 7. The classes will be every Thursday from 9:00 — 4:00 P.M. through April 1. The $200 fee includes the new 450-plus page Texas Master Gardener Handbook, handouts, refreshments, speaker’s honorariums, and travel for visiting specialists.

For a complete schedule, information packet, and 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 December 7 at 5 pm. Not all applicants will be accepted into the program. Those accepted will be notified by December 21. Class size is limited and preference will be given to qualified Smith County residents with gardening experience, a desire to educate, enthusiasm, and time to volunteer. Social distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be enforced. An orientation meeting for potential Master Gardeners will be held at the Smith County AgriLife Extension office (1517 W. Front St.) on Friday, November 20 from 1-3 pm. If you are interested in applying, or have questions, call (903) 590-2980 to reserve a spot at the orientation and make plans to attend.

Greg Grant is the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He is author of Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Heirloom Gardening in the South, and The Rose Rustlers. You can read his “Greg’s Ramblings” blog at arborgate.com, read his “In Greg’s Garden” in each issue of Texas Gardener magazine (texasgardener.com), and follow him on Facebook at “Greg Grant Gardens.” More science-based lawn and gardening information from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service can be found at aggieturf.tamu.edu and aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu.

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