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Donna Hoffman

Donna Hoffman is a horticulture educator with the University of Wyoming Extension, which will be hosting the Natrona County Master Gardeners spring conference.

The Natrona County Master Gardeners 2018 Spring Gardening Conference is 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Agricultural Resource and Learning Center, 2011 Fairground Rd. Donna Hoffman is the assistant extension educator for UW Extension of Natrona County. Her love of gardening can be traced to gardening with her grandmother at an early age. This is the 23rd year for a spring conference, so we thought we’d chat with Donna about it.

Is your conference for anyone interested in gardening? Absolutely anybody who is interested in gardening, from the very beginner to the more advanced master gardener.

Your conference coincides with Earth Day. Tell us why. Our committee chair, Rachel Spear, picked the title, “Back to the Earth,” which tapped into the idea that lots of people have not been gardeners or homesteading for the past generation or maybe two generations, but people are now really interested in getting back to that.

And you have primarily local presenters this year. Tell us about that. Part of that was a timeline situation, we didn’t have our chair for the conference until January, and part is we’ve got great connections to UW Extension and Colorado people, so we have three UW educators coming, one presenter from Colorado and a master gardener.

Tell us about the presenters and their topics. Hudson Hill will speak about composting and a bit about backyard chickens. Jennifer Thompson will talk about landscaping for pollinators and bee people. Deryn Davidson will delve into rain harvesting to activate your landscape. Jeff Edwards will talk about small fruit planting, care and production in the western high plains and Ernie Schierwagen, a master gardener, will talk about growing vegetables in the wild west.

How experienced do you need to be to learn something? We are hoping to get some people who are just beginning to think that they want to try some stuff in their backyard and we look forward to sharing in-depth for people ready to step up to the next level. People anywhere along the spectrum can learn things.

What do you hope those who attend take away from the day? Getting back to our roots, a lot of people think it’s a lot of hard work that grandpa and grandma had to do back in the day. But now we know that our environment is much healthier if we keep things like yard waste right on our own properties and our own home site benefits from things we all tend to push off and push away. It’s very gratifying to do your own bit to improve the environment as a whole and your living environment at the same time.

Registration is still open? Yes, it is $60 for the full day, which includes continental breakfast and a full lunch. You can call 235-9400, stop by our office at 2011 Fairgrounds Rd. or pull up the registration brochure at

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS


Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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