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Early bird deadline for master gardener conference extended

Posted 11/26/2008

LAS VEGAS -- Horticulture enthusiasts from around the world will converge on Las Vegas in March for the International Master Gardeners Conference at the Alexis Park Resort Hotel.

Early bird registration for the event has been extended to Nov. 30 for the conference from March 22-25.

The event is sponsored by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and coordinated by Southern Nevada Master Gardeners, whose program will explore such topics as pollinators, honey bees and colony collapse disorder; replacing turf with meadow plants; how to nurture young trees; and a ’show-and-tell’ session on integrated pest management that will feature a guest appearance by environmental horticulturalist ML Robinson’s 6-inch Black Emperor scorpion.

The conference is open to master gardeners as well as the general public, conference coordinator Ann Edmunds said. Master gardeners will have a chance to compare notes on horticulture with fellow experts from all 50 states and some foreign countries. Other attendees might find themselves signing up to become master gardeners as well, Edmunds said.

"They’ll be inspired to learn more," she said.

Master gardeners are volunteers educated at land grant universities around the U.S. In Nevada, these gardeners take at least 50 hours of instruction in advanced plant science from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and then volunteer at least 50 hours a year to passing along their knowledge to the general public.

In 2005, there were an estimated 80,000 certified Master Gardeners in the U.S. who had contributed 3.4 million hours of volunteer service.

The four-day conference will be packed with seminars on such topics as how gardeners can help solve the world’s hunger problems; growing hydroponic herbs and vegetables; container succulents for all climates; protecting your area from imported plant pests; starting community gardens and victory gardens; and tree canopy exploration.

A number of sessions will focus on the wise use of water. Presenter Brad Lancaster, the author of the award-winning "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 1: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain Into Your Life," will discuss the eight principles of water harvesting and using greywater to nourish your soils and reduce water consumption. Landscape architect Jack Zunino will discuss the evolution of water-efficient landscapes.

The keynote speaker is Jeff Lowenfels, whose 32-year-old column in the Anchorage Daily News is the longest-running garden column in the United States. Lowenfels, a former editor of the Harvard Lampoon, is the founder of "Plant A Row for The Hungry" program, which has resulted in gardeners growing and donating enough food to provide 20 million meals to feed the hungry. His book, "Teaming with Microbes, A Gardener’s Guide to The Soil Food Web" (Timber Press), is considered the most important gardening book written in the past 25 years.

For fun, conference participants will also visit the University of Nevada, Las Vegas arboretum, which has more than 3,000 trees and 20,000 shrubs and is a short walk from the Alexis Park Resort where the conference is taking place. Conferees can also enjoy the "Paint a Memory" workshop, garden tours at private residences and the "Fit for Gardening" health fair, which will include an afternoon of fitness classes, health screenings and exhibitions.

What: The International Master Gardener Conference
Where: The Alexis Park Resort Hotel, Las Vegas
Cost: $260 till Nov. 30; $310 till Feb. 15; $350 late registration if available
When: March 22-25
Details: Ann Edmunds, (702) 257-5587 or or the Master Gardener Help Line at (888) 891-9662 (toll-free) or (702) 257-5555.
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