University of Florida Extension ServiceUF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension ServiceOkeechobee County seal

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail:

April 30,  2009

Quick Links:  2009 Road trip   References 


Feature Article - for release the week of May 3, 2009

Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent

A Very Green Class

Spring is the time for graduation, and recently the Okeechobee Extension office kept up with this seasonal tradition.  No, it’s not about our local high school or college students, but our very own Master Gardner Program. Our latest crop of four volunteers has finished their class work and now begins their careers as Florida Master Gardeners. 

Master Gardeners are volunteers that work with the Cooperative Extension Service, bringing research-based information about Florida Yards and gardens to local residents.  To become Master Gardeners, these volunteers spent more than 60 hours in the classroom and made field visits through out the Treasure Coast.  They more time on their own, studying all about plants, soils, pests and problem solving methods.

Through our long cool winter and spring, these dedicated green thumbs learned the ins and outs of Florida Friendly gardening.  Classes often included teleconference training along with hundreds of volunteers all over Florida.  These “Polycom” sessions allowed students to learn from UF Extension specialists based in places like Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville.  Local Agent Dan Culbert broadcast the Basic Botany lesson from right here in Okeechobee to all parts of the state.

Road Trip, 2009:

Dr. Sandra Wilson explains the site preparation techniques used to create the linear garden at the UF/IFAS IRREC in Fort Pierce.  New Master Gardeners spent time learning about landscape plant installation during a field trip to this UF campus in our backyard. Photo: Dan Culbert,  UF/IFAS 


Native plant identification as well as a little bit of entomology was practiced at the IRREC in Ft. Pierce:  This red Damselfly took a rest on a Florida Privet that is in the center's teaching gardens.  Photo: Dan Culbert,  UF/IFAS 

Trainees also inspected Water Gardening techniques and the special glass sculptures created by Hans Godo Frabel on display at McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach. Photo: Dan Culbert,  UF/IFAS  

MG trainees also learned about tropical landscaping at McKee.  L to R, Mike Danielson, Kim Underwood, McKee Docent [and Indian River Master Gardner] Linda Chancellor, and Debbie Davies. Photo: Dan Culbert,  UF/IFAS 

Okeechobee Master Gardeners

Our county’s first Master Gardener was Rudy Suchel.  In 1996, Bill Hendry traveled over to Ft. Pierce to gain his Master Gardener training with other Treasure Coast volunteers.  Since 2003, our Extension program has trained 16 other Master Gardeners. 

This new class now begins to pay-back the public for all their new found knowledge.  They have agreed to provide a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer service during the next year. 

Our new graduates will begin by helping local veterans Terri Lane, Fran Everly, and Wendy Watts who host our Tuesday afternoon Master Gardener Clinic.  This is when all kinds of interesting pest and plant problems are called in from the public. 

Florida Yards and Neighborhood Program Assistant Angela Sachson is also a Master Gardener, but she is an employee, helping to bring Florida-Friendly landscaping ideas to folks in the Heartland of Florida.  Throughout the next year these volunteers are planning to be part of demonstration projects such as the FYN Butterfly Garden in downtown Okeechobee and some other sites they are working on.   


Here is our graduating class of 2009 (L to R):




If you want additional information on the Master Gardening program or would like to be part of the next class, see our webpage, send us an email  or call us at 863-763-6469.  Local residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and visit with Master Gardeners from 1 to 3 PM on Tuesday afternoons.  Happy Graduation Day & GO Gators!


The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida.  Millie Ferrer, Interim Dean. Last update: 04/30/2009.  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert  

 Extension Master Gardener


The Class of 2007 (Master Gardener graduates) 

Master Gardeners Give Thanks for Green Thumbs  (2003)

Okeechobee Master Gardener homepage

Florida Master Gardener website

National MG website