AgriLife Extension accepting applications for Bexar County adult, youth horticulture programs

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is taking applications for participants in both its adult Bexar County Master Gardeners volunteer association and Children’s Vegetable Garden program, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Bexar County.

“We’re currently accepting applications for our Master Gardener Class No. 57,” Rodriguez said. “The Bexar County Master Gardeners association is a volunteer service organization representing the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and we’re looking for individuals with the time and willingness to volunteer.”

Volunteers of Bexar County Master Gardeners support Texas A&M AgriLife Extension youth and adult horticulture programming efforts, such as  providing gardening information and advice  to area residents. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

He said the application deadline will be Feb. 25 and that class size will be limited to 35-40 individuals. Classes will be conducted each Wednesday from noon – 4 p.m. beginning March 6 and concluding May 29.

Classes provide at least 50 hours of instruction relating to botany and plant physiology, entomology, plant identification and pathology, xeriscaping, landscaping, turfgrass maintenance and diseases, natural resources, urban forestry, water conservation, growing ornamental plants, herbs and vegetables, pruning, soils and composting, and growing fruits and nuts.

“Those completing the program will be asked to complete at least 50 or more volunteer hours in support of both AgriLife Extension youth and adult horticultural education outreach during the first year,” he said. “Volunteer opportunities range from staffing plant clinics or displays to speaking to local groups, conducting workshops, helping establish community garden projects or working with 4-H youth.”

Acceptance is based on the application and the willingness to volunteer, Rodriguez said. A fee of $220 is charged for training materials and payable in full at the first class meeting. A background check is also required on all applicants and will be done on the first day of class.

A Master Gardener class application form can be found on the website for AgriLife Extension in Bexar County at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu under the Ag and Natural Resources tab, then Horticulture and Bexar County Master Gardener.

Applicants are requested to mail, fax or email their completed forms to Master Gardener Training, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Attn: Angel Torres, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, Suite 212, San Antonio, Texas. The office fax number is 210-930-1753.

For more information, contact Torres at 210-467-6575 or visit the website.

“We are also inviting young people ages eight to 13 to participate in our spring session of the popular Children’s Vegetable Garden program, a joint program of AgriLife Extension and the San Antonio Botanical Garden,” Rodriguez said.

He said the program is held in the Children’s Vegetable Garden area of the botanical garden, located at 555 Funston Place in San Antonio.

Applications are now being accepted for Bexar County area youth from eight to 13 years old interested in participating in the Spring 2013 Children’s Vegetable Garden program –  a hands-on youth education effort of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and San Antonio Botanical Garden. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“This program allows young people from throughout the county to learn about gardening and how to grow their own vegetables and get some useful outdoor activity,” Rodriguez said. “The San Antonio Botanical Garden, AgriLife Extension and Bexar County Master Gardeners oversee the children’s vegetable garden program in which youngsters learn hands-on techniques of vegetable gardening with emphasis on environmental stewardship and organics.”

“Depending on the weather, on consecutive Saturday mornings children will plant, weed, water, nurture and harvest their individual plots under the mentorship of trained, certified Master Gardeners. For a nominal fee, planting materials and tools are furnished and each child receives individualized attention. The session concludes with a harvest and vegetable show.”

Rodriguez said participants can also earn their Junior Master Gardener certification by participating in fun, hands-on activities each week after they have tended their garden.

The program will be from 9 a.m. to noon on 16 consecutive Saturdays from Feb. 16 to June 1. An application and information can be found on the website for AgriLife Extension in Bexar County at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu. The deadline for applying is Feb.8.

Rodriguez said the cost for the children’s program is $40 to cover seeds, plants, compost and other items, as well as Junior Master Gardener materials. However, if a friend or second family member is added to a program plot, the fee will be $50.

Completed applications should be mailed or dropped off with full payment no later than Feb. 8 to the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Send the application and payment to Children’s Vegetable Garden Program, San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston Place, San Antonio, Texas 78209.

“Space is limited, so we recommend children apply early,” Rodriguez said. “Acceptance in the program will be based on completeness of the application and willingness to attend each Saturday morning session, although two absences are allowed. Participants accepted into the program will be notified by Feb. 11.”

For more information or to ask about any special child’s requirements, contact Rodriguez at 210-467-6575 or dhrodriguez@ag.tamu.edu.

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