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As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Master Gardener Class Signup Underway

It has been a busy late winter and early spring! The Williamson County Master Gardeners have to be some of the busiest, most fun people on the planet and yet just mention another gardening project and a they are off again. In just the past few months local Master Gardeners have propagated and transferred into one gallon pots over 2000 perennial plants. These plants are part of their annual fundraising effort for all their many projects including the Junior Master Gardener program in local schools. They have given numerous educational programs to local garden clubs, civic clubs, schools and churches. They sponsored four educational seminars at the Georgetown Home and Garden Show while hosting their annual plant sale and giving out educational materials. They have put in many educational gardens at several local schools with still more to install and they have been teaching school children about gardening while doing it. They have had several great programs for their membership to continue their gardening education and now they are in the midst of starting several new projects while maintaining the ones the already have. Added to all this they are helping to reinvigorate our landscape gardens at the Extension office including adding a new EarthKind rose garden and a vegetable variety trial garden.
Now that you know how much fun the Williamson County Master Gardeners are having doing gardening education you may want to know how you can get involved. We are just now beginning signup for our 2009 Master Gardener intern training program. This training program is 15 weeks in length with the first class being Tuesday, August 11, 2009. Classes are held each Tuesday, from 1 pm till 5 pm at the Extension office meeting room, 3151 Inner Loop, in Georgetown. Each week features a different speaker on a different topic such as Dr. Doug Welsh on EarthKind gardening, Jim Kamas on fruits and nuts, Steve Chaney on Perennials, Tom Leroy on vegetables, plus many more. This is every bit like a college course in horticulture which prepares you for the many opportunities to work with AgriLife Extension in educating the public about horticulture. In fact you will have lots of opportunities to present programs, talk one on one answering questions, developing projects and helping train future gardeners. Each Master Gardener intern must complete the required educational training program and within one year do 50 hours volunteering in Master Gardener projects and receive an additional 15 hours of continuing education before they are certified. Once certified, Master Gardeners maintain their certification by continuing to volunteer time to support horticulture education and projects and also completing advanced education. This way the public can be assured that when they attend a program given by a Master Gardener or even ask a question of one of the many currently certified Master Gardeners they are getting good, science based information in horticulture.
Now if we have you interested and are ready to sign up you can get an application one of several ways. First, the applications are available on our Extension website at Williamson-tx.tamu.edu or you can call the Extension office at 943-3300 and we can mail you one. The cost of the class is $250 or $4.17 per hour of instruction. For $250 you receive all the classroom training, the Master Gardener notebook, reference books, a hand lens and many other materials throughout the class. So get an application, fill it out and send it in with $250 soon. We take applications on a first come, first served basis. Once we get your application then we will begin the process of selection. You will be interviewed by an Extension Agent and a Certified Master Gardener and if selected you will start on August 11! Interviews for new interns will start in May so get in your application in and start your new career as a Master Gardener.

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