Winter School 2015: Before You Go Info from Dr. Natalie Ruth Bumgarner


Winter School 2015   —  “The Good Earth”

The TEMG Advocacy board is looking forward to welcoming you to Winter School 2015 this week – TN Extension Master Gardeners’ best resource for education, networking and fun. There’s so much in store. Be ready for an experience that will motivate and inspire you, from the outstanding speakers to the incredible learning activities to all the great gardening ideas we always gain at Winter School. Pay close attention to the information in this email – we want you to be as prepared as possible for a state conference like no other.


The attire for the conference is gardener casual (jeans, khakis, sweatshirts are just fine). It is February and we’ll be inside a very nice, heated metal building, so dress in layers that you can take off or put on as needed. In years past, we’ve had a few people complain about the plastic chairs getting a little hard throughout the day, so feel free to bring a pillow or blanket to sit on if you prefer.

The middle TN forecast predicts mostly sunny conditions with daytime temperatures in low to mid 30s during the conference. Be sure to plan accordingly and check the weather forecast just before leaving.

 New for 2015

Did you notice any changes in the Winter School agenda?  Based on your requests (we really do read and make changes based on your surveys), we eliminated the “track” schedules.  We are still offering the top notch leadership training and educational sessions in a two-day conference.  We are still offering fantastic general session speakers and you can also still choose between great sessions in five different concurrent sessions (options are always a good thing).

A new activity for this year is a special listening session for association leadership (the alliance member or their designee).  TEMG is growing and improving, and we want to ensure that all our county associations are able to provide input into future planning for Extension Master Gardeners.  If you are a county association president, be sure to stick around Thursday after the final session for this meeting.

Another new feature this year is expanding the volunteer assistance across the state.  Previously the volunteer helpers have been the Advocacy board members and Master Gardeners from Rutherford County.  This year all TEMGs had the opportunity to help and, in turn, receive a discount on your registration fee.  Hope you signed up as a volunteer helper when you registered!  It is a lot of fun (not to mention those valuable volunteer hours)!

Thinking of 2016…..  Based on your numerous requests to hold Winter School in different locations, the Advocacy board is open to suggestions for moving to another place.  Rutherford County has tremendous facilities, staff, and local volunteers who have been wonderful to help us through these past few years.  The TEMG leadership has truly enjoyed working with them!  The Advocacy board would like to hear your suggestions for a 2016 site, keeping in mind these requirements:

*large classroom style meeting space with at least 3 good-sized rooms (or 2 large rooms and an area for registration and silent auction), kitchenette area, plenty of restroom space, and good parking – preferably on an university or extension campus (we’re willing to consider other inexpensive options)

*in a city that is somewhat central so that no one group must travel a very far distance, has several options for inexpensive hotel rooms, has several options for restaurants

We realize that this is a lot to ask, however you have told us that there are facilities out there wanting to host our conference, so now is your chance to let us know!

As you know, we are always striving to improve your experience at Winter School, so let us know what you think about these and other changes this year.  Be sure to write any other ideas or suggestions on your evaluation forms…..we really do use these comments when planning each year!

   Getting There

TEMG Winter School 2015 is in Murfreesboro, TN in the Community Center building at the Lane Agri-Center (315 John R. Rice Blvd).  When you turn off of John R. Rice Blvd, you will be facing the Administration Building.  Turn right to drive around that building, and then make another right.  Drive past the livestock barn and our meeting is in the next building on the left, the Community Center.  Parking is in the front of the building.

Registration Hours

Upon your arrival to the Lane Agri-Center’s Community Center, first you’ll stop by the registration desk in the Foyer to pick up your meeting materials, including your name badge and program. You will only need to register once.  Hours for the registration desk are:

Wednesday, Feb 25  —— 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  (accepting Silent Auction donations too)

Thursday, Feb 26  ——  7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Friday, Feb 27  ——  7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

First Day Activities – Thursday, Feb 26 

Opening Welcome 

8:00 a.m.   Come meet your new TEMG State Coordinator!  Dr. Natalie Bumgarner will discuss some of her background and ideas for TEMG’s in the future. We are excited to have Natalie in TN and know you will be also!

Regional Alliance Meetings

12:15 p.m. – Again this year we will have our TN regional alliance meetings.  Meet Master Gardeners from other associations within your region and discuss issues specific to your area.

Search for Excellence Presentations   

1:45 p.m. – Hear about our SFE 2014 winning projects and gain ideas about how to take these projects back to your association.  We encourage you to start working now on your SFE application for 2015!

Round Table Discussions

3:00 p.m.  New this year – We will have topic specific areas for you to network with your MG peers and help each other to improve with your own ideas and experiences.  Choose between topics such as social media, advanced master gardeners, improving meeting attendance, junior master gardeners, fund raising – small groups and another for large groups, networking, intern training, and educational events.  Pick a topic and let the knowledge flow!

Social Evening Event     

8:00 p.m. – Comfort Suites meeting room (1st floor)

You are invited to a get-together at the Comfort Suites hotel sponsored by the NETMG association.  Attire for this is casual.  Don’t sit in your hotel room all night.  Join your fellow TEMGs in fun fellowship and great conversation.

Second Day Activities – Friday, Feb 27 

Opening Session   

8:00 a.m. – We have a great educational session planned to increase our knowledge on hydrangeas.  Discover the latest UT research on which plants are wimps and which ones are great for our TN weather and insects.

Shared Visions 

10:45 a.m. – Another outstanding speaker this year is Janet Carson, coming to us all the way from Little Rock, Arkansas.  You’ll enjoy hearing Janet give us some of her perspectives on the relationship between local group identities and shared vision across the state.

Awards Program 

12:00 p.m. – Join us in anticipation as Chris Cooper makes very special announcements of our 2014 award winners.

Hands-on Grafting Class 

1:00 p.m. – Another new feature this year is a hands-on educational session teaching grafting of tomatoes and apples.  You’ll leave this session with the actual plants that you work on during class!  Be sure to register for this class when you register for Winter School so we’ll know how many plants to bring (and you’ll know to leave space in your car for the trip home).

Silent Auction  

1:00 p.m. – Silent auction ends.  Winners may pay for and pick up their items when Winter School ends at 3:00.  Good luck and bid high!


Meals are provided with your registration.  If you register late, meals are not guaranteed and may not be available (depending on the number of registrations).  Please wait until the end of the buffet line to ensure all on-time attendees get their food.  If needed, there are a few fast restaurants near the Agri-Center, or you may wish to bring your lunch.  In previous years there was plenty of food for everyone, however every year our attendance grows, so please be considerate of others.

The only special meals available will be for attendees who notified us ahead of time (allergies, etc.).  We have attempted to make our meals delicious and healthy for everyone…keeping in mind that tastes do vary and catering services are somewhat limited.  If you have extra-special needs, please make meal provisions on your own.

              Silent Auction

Don’t forget to support registration scholarships for the 2016 Winter School by bringing items for our silent auction.  Items can be checked in Wednesday, Feb. 25, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 26, 7 a.m. – 12 noon.  Please include detailed information of your donated items (including the donor’s name) so they can be better described on the forms.

Please walk through and check out all the silent auction items frequently as bids can come in any time until closing on Friday.  If you are the lucky winner of an item, you can pay for and pick up your item after the final presentation ends at 3:00 p.m. Friday.

Bid High and Bid Often!

New TEMG Gear

This year at Winter School, we will be offering tee shirts and polo shirts embroidered with the new UT Extension Master Gardener logo. Additionally, there will be hot/cold drinking tumblers with the new logo as well as hats, visors, and license plates. All of these items will be available for sale on Thursday, so be prepared!

 Winter School Evaluation Feedback

Please take the time to complete the survey before you leave on Friday and let us know your feedback on the 2015 Winter School. Forms are at the registration desk and once completed, can be left in the box at the registration desk.  This is how we continue to improve the program and select presentation ideas and topics for next year’s sessions, so make your voice count!



 Please visit our website at, post your question to our Facebook page (Tennessee Master Gardener), or contact your county Extension agent in charge of Master Gardeners.

   Volunteer Assistance

 The TMG Advocacy board gives a HUGE thank you for the wonderful assistance provided by all the TN Master Gardener Volunteers and the Rutherford County Extension service.  We simply could not hold this conference without the long hours of dedicated work from these fine people.

Natalie R. Bumgarner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Residential and Consumer Horticulture
Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Coordinator
Department of Plant Sciences
252 Ellington Plant Sciences, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996 |


About Greg

I enjoy chess, amateur radio, gardening, beekeeping, birding, and being outdoors.
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