HARLINGEN — Texas Master Gardeners and Texas Master Naturalists in the Valley are inviting local community organizations, Winter Texan clubs and groups to request an expert speaker to address more than 160 available topics on gardening and nature.
The speakers’ service is free, but is limited to non-political events and meetings.
Gardening topics range from garden-to-table vegetable and fruit gardening to exotic Brassavola orchids, developing public community gardens, composting, butterfly and pollinator gardens, growing and caring for palms and citrus, medicinal plants, herb gardens and native plants and trees.
Naturalist topics run from the Rio Grande Valley’s unique habitat and ecosystem from birds, butterflies, migration and fauna, to native plants and trees, adaptive landscape plants, Texas archaeology, shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico, and bats and beachcombing to creating water features on a budget.
Texas Master Naturalist and Master Gardeners also are available for guided native plant walks in Harlingen’s Hugh Ramsey Nature Park.
“ There is a broad range of subjects, and that’s kind of what’s exciting for groups, especially the groups that need to have speakers every week,” said Anita Westervelt, a Texas Master Naturalist. “Especially our Winter Texans, because a lot of those RV parks have many groups and organizations.
“ They especially like to learn about the Valley, and some of the unique things about the Valley,” she added. “But also with the Master Gardeners, it’s surprising the number of people who really want to know how to grow vegetables here in the Valley. And we have answers for that.”
The presentations are usually around 40 minutes in length and are designed to be electronically projected to large audiences or they can be tailored for a 20-minute stand-up information program with questions and answers.
Westervelt said any group interested in recruiting one of their speakers should use the contact information on the individual websites and call early to set up a session.
“ A week or so before would be best, because a lot of the speakers like to tailor a program specifically to the audience that they speak to,” she said.
In addition, residents and Winter Texans are eligible to join any of the four organizations and sign up for the training classes.
Two- and three-hour fee-based workshops also are available about aspects of gardening from propagating plants to making decorative pots and designing a container garden, to PowerPoint design, presentation skills training, photography composition and writing for newspapers.
The Master Gardener and Master Naturalist organizations are educational volunteer programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M University System. They offer speakers as part of their community education and outreach.
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