Longtime extension agent appointed consumer horticulture educator, Arkansas Master Gardener coordinator
Oct. 14, 2022
By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Randy Forst hired as state consumer horticulture educator for extension
- Will coordinate statewide Master Gardeners program involving 3,400+ volunteers
LITTLE ROCK — The Cooperative Extension Service has a new consumer horticulture educator who will lead statewide outreach and coordinate Master Gardener programs.
Randy Forst, who has served as a county extension agent for 13 years, has been hired as the consumer horticulture educator for extension, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. In his new role, Forst will provide leadership for statewide horticulture programs and coordinate the Arkansas Master Gardeners program, the state’s largest horticulture volunteer and education organization. Forst began the new position Oct. 3.
“Randy is the perfect person to lead our consumer horticulture program and Master Gardener program,” Dr. Bob Scott, director of the Cooperative Extension Service, said. “He has worked in the Delta, Ouachita and Ozark districts and is an expert when it comes to Arkansas horticulture. He will be an asset to our agents as well as to the hundreds of Master Gardeners we have volunteering across the state.”
Started in 1988 in four counties (Garland, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Saline) and with 40 members, the Arkansas Master Gardeners program now has more than 3,400 volunteers working in 67 of the state’s counties. Volunteers maintain hundreds of gardens and landscaping projects across Arkansas. Last year, they donated 128,994 service hours and provided 73,555 education hours.
Forst will support county extension agents across then state in managing all aspects of the Master Gardeners volunteer program, including policies and procedures, recruitment, training and management.
Forst has previous served as an agent and horticulture expert in St. Francis, Carroll and Pulaski counties. He most recently served as the staff chair for the Pulaski County extension office, where he worked with 560 Master Gardener volunteers.
“I just love it. The Master Gardener program is a great resource for Arkansas, and our volunteers do an exceptional job of educating others in their counties about horticulture,” Forst said. “It’s amazing the different projects we have across the state.”
Forst has a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Design and Urban Horticulture and a Master of Science in General Agriculture, both from the University of Arkansas. Before joining extension, he was a landscape architect in Tennessee.
For more information about the Master Gardener program in Arkansas, visit www.uaex.uada.edu/master-gardeners. To learn more about horticulture and other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AR_Extension.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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