The award-winning Smith County Master Gardener program (txmg.org/smith/) is seeking applicants to join a highly trained corps of enthusiastic volunteers who assist the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service with providing educational horticulture 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, teaching, and talking on the phone? Would you like to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many kinds of ornamental and edible plants? Would you like to participate in intensive horticulture training? Do you have time to attend a three-month training from 9-4 each Thursday, starting January 5, 2023? Are you willing to complete 72 hours of prescribed volunteer work for the Smith County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service within one year after the training and continue volunteering each year?
If you answered yes to all these questions, the Texas Master Gardener program (txmg.org) is for you. The Smith County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is accepting applications for county residents who would like to receive expert horticulture training in order to use their knowledge and experience teaching others about many aspects of gardening.
The Smith County Master Gardener program is a volunteer program through which trained volunteers provide science and research-based gardening information to the residents of Smith County. This is done through various programs and activities such as workshops, conferences, speaking engagements, school gardens, written articles for publications and social media, bedding plant trials, the Tyler Botanical Garden, and answering individual requests for gardening information at the Smith County Master Gardener Help Desk.
Participants become certified Master Gardeners after completing both the 3-month training and 12-month internship. Certification lasts for one year and is renewed through ongoing volunteer participation, continuing education, and paying annual dues to the Smith County Master Gardener Association. According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Youth Protection Standards, all Master Gardeners are required to pass an initial background check, with updates every 3 years.
The 2023 Smith County Master Gardener class will begin Thursday, January 5. Classes will be held every Thursday from 9:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M. through March 30, 2023. The $200 fee includes the 450-plus page Texas Master Gardener Handbook, handouts, refreshments, speakers’ honoraria, and travel expenses 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 October 31, 2022, at 5 pm. Not all applicants will be accepted into the program. Those accepted will be notified by November 18, 2022. Class size is limited, and preference will be given to qualified Smith County residents with gardening experience, dedication to education, enthusiasm, and time to volunteer. An orientation meeting for potential Master Gardeners will be held at the Smith County AgriLife Extension office (1517 W. Front St.) on Thursday, October 20 from 1-3 P.M. 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.