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Spotlight on . . . Dawn Oldfield, Collin County Master Gardener

Spotlight on . . . Dawn Oldfield 

1. Why did you become a Master Gardener and when? 

I became a Master Gardener in 2004. I “inherited” my green thumb from my great grandmother who grew beautiful lilacs in her garden. As a kid, I participated in 4-H, submitting vegetables in fairs and competitions. In college I had an herb garden and veggies in pots on my apartment patio! I’m originally from Wisconsin and love lilacs. When I moved to Texas, I planted a lilac. After the lilac died, I got a list of plants that would do well in the Texas climate. After marriage, I worked in advertising and had a friend who had a greenhouse who encouraged me to become a master gardener. My mom encouraged me to check out Collin County Master Gardeners. When I applied to CCMGA in 2004, I had to be interviewed to be accepted. At the time, I doubted I would be accepted because I worked full time and followed an organic gardening program which I didn’t think AgriLife followed. I was accepted as a student and have enjoyed being a part of CCMGA ever since. Although I don’t remember exactly how many were in my class – 30 or so, I do remember that we met at extension office in Dallas. It was a great class! 

2. What is your role with CCMGA? 

I am the public relations chairperson and part of the Communications team. I’ve been doing this since 2005. I have a degree in journalism and am a published author. Because I worked in advertising, I have many contacts with various media outlets. CCMGA needed a cohesive message with a single contact instead of many. The goal was to have the same “voice” represent our association. As public relations chairperson, I write the press releases for all media: radio, newspaper, magazines, the TX MG website, and various local publications. 

3. What is the best part about your “job” with CCMGA? 

It is fun to share what we do with the public. We have so many new people who move to our area every day. They get to Texas and ask what to do with our soil and temperature. The information we share helps residents better manage their gardens and landscapes. I want to let the public know that we are a research-based organization and we can help them. 

4. How does your role support CCMGA? 

My role helps get the message out about who we are and how we educate the public. We do this by informing the public of the great work we do and by helping them to become more confidant and successful gardeners. Soil, irrigation, water conservation, fertilizer, insecticides are all topics we address. 

5. What do you love most about CCMGA? 

The people of course! CCMGA is a dynamic group whose members share the same core values and interests. We want to share our knowledge and training with our communities. I love that we are connecting with communities through our research and demo gardens. By partnering with communities to teach and show them good horticultural practices, we touch so many people throughout Collin County. I love engaging with the public. 

6. You work mostly behind the scenes, but when you don’t, where are we most likely to find you? 

You will find me more than likely at the Garden Show. I want to promote vendor happiness, making sure they have what they need, in return I’m given an opportunity to interview them for future articles. Why do they keep coming back? What do they get out of it? If this is their first Garden Show, why did they come to TGS.? I also participate in the Spring and Fall plant sales. 

7. What advice would you give to anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener? 

Go for it! You’re going to meet the most amazing people who have the same interests as you. I have learned so much and found it an incredible way to expand my knowledge of gardening in areas I never imagined. Identifying plant diseases and studying the entomology aspects of gardening has helped me become a better gardener. Being a Master Gardener is a great way to become an instrumental part of your community. 

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