If you enjoy expanding your own gardening knowledge and sharing it with others, you're a great Master Gardener candidate. The Smith County Master Gardener program, started in 1994, is sponsored by Texas Extension AgriLife Extension Service, itself an arm of the Texas A&M System. Smith County Master Gardeners trainees receive 72 hours of classroom instruction from Smith County Horticulturist Keith Hansen and numerous other experts, including well-known gardening authors. The training covers every aspect of horticulture from the basics of soil science and botany to specific plant, tree, and grass pests and diseases.
Following training, Master Gardener interns give a minimum of 72 hours of volunteer service over the next year. Volunteer service includes manning Extension Office phones to answer gardening questions from the public, and participating in projects like The IDEA Garden and Heritage Garden at the Tyler Rose Center; plant variety trials at A&M's Overton Research Station; spring and fall Gardening seminars for the public; publication of the Northeast Texas Gardening Guide; numerous children's group and school projects; writing tips such as the one you are reading; and a speakers bureau for gardening and other community groups.
Applications to become a Master Gardener are taken every October through December and are available at the Smith County AgriLife Extension office, and on the web at http://easttexasgardening.tamu.edu The actual training takes place early January through mid March. Training sessions are twice a week, 4 hours each session through the training period. Call the Smith County Extension Office at 903-590-2980 for more information and an application.