Meet Orange County’s New Residential Horticulture/Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator Extension Agent!

Clarissa smiling in front of plantsIntroduction

Hello everyone! My name is Clarissa Chairez, and I am the new Residential Horticulture/Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator Extension Agent in Orange County! I started this position in June and wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.

Personal Background

While I was born and raised in Sacramento, California, I have spent a few years here in Orlando, FL (2014, 2017-2018). I have moved across the county many times in the past decade, and I am happy to be settling back into my favorite city!

Educational and Professional Background

Clarissa and Mickey Mouse smiling in front of The Land signI studied Agricultural Education at California State University, Chico for my Bachelor of Science degree. After graduating, I was offered a plant science internship in Epcot’s Living with the Land Hydroponic Greenhouses. During that internship, I learned the ins and outs of various growing techniques, food production, and greenhouse operations.

Building titled STEM Research CenterAfter my time with Disney, I moved back to California to earn my California Single Subject – Agriculture teaching credential to become a high school agriculture teacher. After earning my credentials and teaching for a year, I transitioned from secondary education to post-secondary. At Amarillo College, I was the Director of the STEM Research Center where I oversaw the greenhouse/lab operations and grant management. It was at that point that I discovered Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and became interested in Extension.

Tropical plants framing a view of a water garden and waterfallMost recently I spent a year as the Nursery Manager at Naples Botanical Garden. I was able to widen my horticultural knowledge to include landscape design and ornamental horticulture. I was also introduced to Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles and how small changes can help us be better stewards to our land. Currently, I am finishing up my Master of Science in Agronomy and minor in Agricultural Leadership from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I am set to graduate Spring 2023.

Future Programming

I am in the midst of planning for our upcoming Master Gardener Volunteer Training this fall. Between attending new Agent professional development workshops and hosting the fall MGV training, I will be planning various programs that will focus on residential horticulture and gardening. Topics may include: vegetable gardening, plant propagation, resourceful gardening, and much more. Check out our Eventbrite page to stay up to date on future classes.

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Posted: August 5, 2022


Category: Home Landscapes, Horticulture, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Gardening, Master Gardener, New Agent, Orange County, Residential Horticulture, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County


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