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.
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
I 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.
After 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.
Most 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.
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.