This year, Texas A&M AgriLife further expanded its educational, service, and outreach presence at the Texas Nursery and Landscaping Association’s Nursery/Landscaping Expo in San Antonio.
“This expo is where green industry buyers and sellers come together to meet, learn about new trends, and grow their business,” said Larry Stein, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist based in Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde. “It’s also where many green industry players come for information and education opportunities, and it’s where Texas A&M AgriLife really provides a service to this industry.”
Stein said the Texas Nursery and Landscaping Association, TNLA, offers Texas A&M AgriLife the opportunity to provide educational materials and horticultural expertise at the show.
“We’ve been to many of these exhibits in different cities over the years and are always trying to improve our educational and informational offerings,” Stein said.
Educational and informative offers
This year, Texas A&M AgriLife booth for its Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas Plant Disease Diagnostics Laboratory, Department of Plant Pathology and MicrobiologyAgriLife Extension and AgriLife Learn provided a variety of horticulture-related education, outreach, and service opportunities. His Texas Superstar booth allowed attendees to view various factories that have been awarded the Texas Superstar designation.
“This expo provides an excellent networking opportunity for people in the green industry,” said Amit Dhingra, Ph.D., head of horticultural science at Texas A&M’s. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It’s also a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of our department, reach young people interested in green industry and reconnect with former students who are now employed in industry.”
Dhingra and other horticultural science department staff at the booth also reminded attendees of the revival The Horticultural Science Tailgate is scheduled for September 17 at the Texas A&M campus and the sale of pecans in progress from the department.
“We’re also taking this opportunity to focus on student internship opportunities and networking to connect students and industry,” said Tammy Neel, Experiential Learning Program Coordinator at Strong. impact in the Department of Horticultural Sciences. “It is important to raise awareness of the many career opportunities in horticulture, such as landscaper, floral designer, nursery manager, research scientist, winemaker and more.”
Attendees were also exposed to the extensive print and digital educational materials and opportunities available through AgriLife Learn as part of Texas A&M AgriLife’s outreach to the expo, said Casey Matzke, AgriLife Extension Educational Product Specialist.
“While most of the materials we focus on during the show are related to horticulture, we have publications and educational materials on a wide variety of topics, including health and well-being, keeping children, gardening, animal husbandry, food security, agriculture, natural resources and others,” Matzke said.
Diagnosis of plant diseases
Texas A&M AgriLife also informs participants about information and services through its Texas Plant Disease Diagnostics Laboratory and the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.
“We let people know about our lab and the services we can provide as well as what the department has to offer,” said Kevin Ong, Ph.D., professor and associate department head for AgriLife Extension in the Department of Pathology. plants and microbiology. “Plant diseases are a problem throughout Texas, and some of them have been exacerbated by the prolonged drought we have experienced. We help people identify plant diseases so that they know what they are dealing with and that a cure, if there is one, can be used successfully and effectively.
Shelia McBride, senior diagnostician in the lab, noted that drought has had a particular impact on cases of native elm wilt and leaf scald in different plants.
“We’ve had a great interest in diagnosing plant diseases since the early phase of the COVID outbreak,” McBride said. “People were staying home more and paying more attention to their surroundings, including their landscape.”
Lab staff shared plant disease fact sheets with the exhibit audience at the booth, including new disease fact sheets for Texas elm wilt, plum scald and laurel wilt. All of these resources are available on the AgriLife Learn site.
A unique and eye-catching addition to this year’s show was the Texas Superstar exhibit, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension Horticulturist for Bexar County.
Some Texas Superstar plants featured at the show included Gold Star Esperanza, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Blue Plumbago, New Gold Lantana, Fall Zinnia, and Tycoon Tomato.
“Texas Superstar is a designation of AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension, and the plants are chosen after extensive field testing by those agencies,” Rodriguez explained. “They are chosen for their appeal and their ability to thrive in a variety of Texas weather conditions. We also choose plants that we are confident will be available in sufficient quantities to meet consumer demand.
Rodriguez also noted that the addition of Texas Superstars to Texas’ green industry has helped fill a vital consumer niche and provided an additional revenue stream for commercial nurseries and landscapers.
“Because of the drought, more and more people are interested in native and adaptive plants that are more heat tolerant and require less water, and many Texas Superstar plants do the trick,” he said. -he declares.