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"I have enjoyed developing and using the the Pitt County Arboretum to teach gardeners, volunteers, and professionals," Danny Lauderdale said. (Photo by Cyndi Lauderdale)

Lauderdale ready for new position, new challenge

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About 20 years ago, my career with North Carolina Cooperative Extension started with an article written by Mitch Smith, now retired County Extension Director of Pitt County. In the article he introduced me as the new Horticulture Agent for Pitt County and mentioned my background of training at Auburn University (War Eagle!) in landscape design, horticulture, urban forestry and nursery and landscape weed management. He also challenged the readers of The Daily Reflector by daring them to call me with home gardening, lawn and landscaping questions as I started writing articles.

The questions that I received over the years led to growing our Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program in Pitt County. Over 200 volunteers have been trained since 1997 when we had our first class. A few years ago we had 76 active volunteers at the peak of the program. Currently there are 64 active volunteers. Even now, as I get ready to depart the Horticulture Agent position in Pitt County, our volunteer group has planned a class that will train new volunteers starting on Wednesday.

Out of the desire to educate about gardening came an interest in demonstration areas of plants that grow well in eastern North Carolina and showing how to garden successfully. In 1998, the first planting volunteers and I did was a perennial border. The next area was the Certified Plant Professional Collection, then the mixed border, kitchen garden, centipede plot, rose garden and so on.

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