Canadian County hosts state horticulture conference

300 certified master gardeners coming Oct. 6

Courtney Keck

By Conrad Dudderar
Associate Editor

Some 300 certified master gardeners from across Oklahoma will visit Canadian County in two weeks to hear from experienced horticulture professionals and tour local gardens.

Canadian County Master Gardeners will host the Master Gardeners State Conference on Friday, Oct. 6 at Canadian Valley Technology Center, 6505 E Highway 66 in El Reno.

Theme is “Honoring Our Past, Growing Out Future.” The program will be inside CV Tech’s seminar center and three classrooms, with on-site vendor and educational booths.

“Our Master Gardeners are in charge of coordinating the conference this year,” said Courtney Keck, Canadian County’s OSU Extension horticulturist.

Canadian County Master Gardeners, which started in 2008, now has nearly 60 active members.

These volunteers have been busy over the past 10 months with conference planning and preparation.

Certified master gardeners representing about 15 counties will be in Canadian County for the Oct. 6th conference.

“This will definitely be a benefit to local businesses and hotels,” Keck pointed out. “I really like that the conference is on the weekend at the Czech Festival is happening (Oct. 7 in Yukon).

“That gives the attendees another reason to stay in town, so we’ve been promoting that event too.”

Canadian County Master Gardeners hosted this state conference 10 years ago at Redlands Community College, shortly before Keck became the county’s OSU extension horticulturist.

Keck works closely with David Hillock, state coordinator of Oklahoma Extension Master Gardener program.

“I suggested to him we could get the next conference,” Keck said. “It was a feat for me in my career, but I also have some really good volunteers in this county. And I knew they could do it.”

Two keynote speakers highlight the state conference schedule.

At 9 a.m., Kelly Kindscher of the University of Kansas will discuss “Native Edible and Medicinal Plants on the Prairie.”

At 1:15 p.m., LaTasha Timberlake of Lillian Timber Farms will discuss “Growing Community One Garden at a Time.”

Canadian County Master Gardeners Carolyn Balson (left) and Carol Smith eagerly await visitors at the recent 69th Annual Canadian County Free Fair to help them with their gardening questions and hand out OSU fact sheets, while Canadian County Master Gardener Karen Tinsley helps engage youth with coloring pages, stamps and stickers.


Twelve break-out sessions are planned during the Oct. 6th conference:

10:30-11:15 a.m.

  • Adam Sarmiento, Eco Landscaping: “Landscaping 2.0: Finding a New Paradigm with Native Plants and Landscapes.”
  • Tony Pascall, Oklahoma Forestry Department: “Project Learning Tree – Activities to Engage Kids in Exploring Their Environment.”
  • Allan Storjohann, KRMG Gardening Show: “Today’s Landscape & Garden Trends.”
  • Bret Scovill, City of Norman: “Municipal Composting.”

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

  • Mark Howery, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: “Enhancing Our Landscapes to Benefit Birds.”
  • Julia Laughlin, OSU Extension: “The Italian Renaissance Garden.”
  • Sam Grimmett, Scissortail Park: “Compounding Issues with Soil and Water.”
  • Susan Turner and Dennis Bilbrey, Canadian County Master Gardeners: “The Blessings of Bees.”

2:30-3:15 p.m.

  • Casey Hentges, Oklahoma Gardening: “Bermudagrass Suppression Demonstration.”
  • Charles Luper, OSU Extension: “Pesticides from the Past and What the Future Looks Like.”
  • Justin and Pauline Harrison, Eden Flower Farm & Greenhouse: “A New Chapter Together.”
  • Ryan Neal, UofA Extension: “Backyard Black & Blueberry Production.”

Oklahoma’s master gardeners will tour Canadian County gardens before and after the conference.

There’s still several dozen slots open for certified master gardener volunteers to register for the Oct. 6th state conference – but time is running out.

Master gardeners will earn continuing education credit hours for attending.

For more information on the conference or Canadian County Master Gardeners, contact Keck at or (405) 262-0155.