Relevance: Water conservation is a critically important issue for residents throughout the state of Texas. Proper use of fertilizers and gardening chemicals is important to the long term health and safety of residents in the county. Programs that promote reduction of landscape waste and recycling will assist in maintaining land fill availability. These community-wide projects and activities include: creating and maintaining research and demonstration gardens; providing speakers bureaus, answer telephone inquiries, conducting workshops and short courses, and disseminating information via mass media and the Internet. In addition, Master Gardener volunteers provide thousands of service hours coordinating and managing educational programs and projects for Extension. Youth that are exposed to the art and science of gardening at an early age have the opportunity to experience and learn horticultural concept s and techniques which may lead to a vocation or a life-long hobby. The Hopkins Count y Master Gardener Program is a volunteer development program administered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is designed to increase the availability of horticultural information and leadership to improve the quality of life through gardening and horticultural projects. Program objectives are implemented through the training and recruiting of local volunteers, known as Master Gardeners. They aid Extension by conducting school garden projects; answering telephone requests for horticultural information; providing speaker bureaus, establishing and maintaining demonstration gardens; working with special audiences in the community; and designing and implementing community improvement projects, as well as coordinating Master Gardener projects. The principle goals of the Hopkins County Master Gardener program include: Environmental stewardship and Earth Kind Principles. Landscape irrigation in Texas accounts for up to 40-60% of the total residential water use during peak summer months. The goal of this plan was to increase the availability of specific horticultural information and improve the quality of life within communities and individuals through horticultural educational programs. Measuring the knowledge gained of horticultural best practices and Earth Kind practices by Hopkins County citizens and Master Gardeners is the first step toward ensuring that effective efforts are made by the Hopkins County Master Gardeners toward conserving and protecting natural resources through the use of environmentally-friendly landscape management practices. The objective of this plan was to educate 60 small acre farmers and gardeners in the implementation of earth kind principles and applications and 40 dairy producers in manure management education.
- 12 monthly master gardeners planning meetings.
- Go-Native Plant Sale (in collaboration of Hopkins County 4-H Exchange Program)(4/14).
- 40 Mass Media Publications related to gardening- water conservation.
- Master Gardeners Multicounty Training (60 hrs training).
- Kids Camp (4 sessions in horticulture).
- Skills Camp (1 session in butterfly habitat conservation/recycling).
- Dairy Outreach Program Area Fall Conference in Texas Watershed Stewardship.
- Plan interpretation (Volunteers 11/9, Commissioner’s Court 11/27, and mass media 12/5).
Results: Water conservation is a major environmental concern during extremely high precipitation years. The adoption of water protection-water conservation principles becomes a challenge since environmental moisture is high. However, the adoption of water conservation principles is critical since water scarcity is not only related to quantity of water but also water quality. During 2017, specific educational efforts were directed to use of native plants in the landscape to protect water and reduce ecological chemical pressure in pollinators (bees and butterflies) in collaboration with Hopkins County Beekeepers Group. Five Master Gardeners Trainers completed their training and will be conducting their volunteer projects during 2017-2018.