Gardener of the Week
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Daphne Richards is the county extension agent for horticulture at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service office for Travis County.
Before coming to Austin, she spent nine years as the AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in El Paso.
Richards' primary responsibilities are administering and developing the countywide Master Gardener program, coordinating and implementing various horticultural education programs and outreach, and increasing overall horticultural awareness.
Under Richards' leadership, the El Paso Master Gardener program doubled in size to 92 volunteers, and its volunteer hours grew about 400 percent, said Robert “Skip” Richter, AgriLife Extension director for Travis County.
“Daphne has really helped increase the El Paso Master Gardener program's focus on community involvement,” said Richter. “She has also helped create an 86 percent volunteer retention rate for that program.”
The Travis County Master Gardener program currently has 225 active members who contributed a total of 11,563 volunteer hours to horticulture-related projects throughout the county during 2008, he said.
Richter said Richards also has been active in promoting horticulture through the media in El Paso County, including doing a weekly radio program, contributing articles on horticulture to El Paso Magazine and developing an online gardening newsletter.
“Daphne is especially interested in environmental issues including water conservation,” Richter said. “Her enthusiasm, training, experience and hands-on knowledge of AgriLife Extension and leading a Master Gardener volunteer horticulture program make her a great fit for Travis County.”
Richards has a bachelor's degree in botany from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree in horticulture from Texas A&M University.
“I'm looking forward to returning to the Austin area and to the new challenges and opportunities in learning about and addressing horticulture in Travis County,” Richards said. “I'm also looking forward to working with the Master Gardener volunteers and with the green industry here.”
Daphne blogs at Central Texas Horticulture.