Larry teaching Master Gardener Volunteers outdoors at Turkey Creek in Niceville, FL

Larry teaching Master Gardener Volunteers about the connection of their landscapes to the watershed

Larry is the Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator with UF/IFAS Extension in Okaloosa County. He has served in this position for 26 years assisting County residents in developing and maintaining Florida-Friendly lawns, landscapes and gardens.

Larry says that Extension has been impactful in his life since he was a youth. He remembers a “County Agent” bringing tomato plants to his elementary school class, providing instructions on how to grow them and providing each student with their own tomato plant to take home for a tomato growing competition though the local Extension 4-H youth program. Being familiar with land-grant universities and their research and Extension publications, he frequently used this resource in completing course work at both Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and at the University of Georgia, earning degrees in agriculture and agriculture education. He later earned a Master of Education degree from the University of West Florida.

It was a high school agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor who was the main influence for Larry pursuing a degree as an Agriculture Teacher himself. While teaching high school as an agriculture/horticulture teacher and an FFA Advisor, Larry introduced his students to Extension by having the County Extension Director as a guest speaker in the classroom and working with the Extension office with agriculture events, including youth livestock shows as well as other FFA and 4-H youth events. When deciding to leave teaching high school, it was

Larry teaching youth about gardening in a school garden

Larry teaching youth about gardening

the local County Extension Director who asked Larry if he had ever considered a career with Extension. That planted a “seed” that Larry pursued, serving as an Extension Agent in two unban Counties and one rural County in Georgia and currently serving as an Extension Agent in Okaloosa County, FL. Larry was the first Horticulture Agent and established the Master Gardener Volunteer program in Okaloosa County.

Larry has worked in the areas of agriculture, forestry and horticulture, but horticulture is his passion. He has been employed with a large commercial greenhouse operation, a retail garden center, a landscape company, operated a city greenhouse and nursery, worked as a city arborist and owned and operated his own landscape business.

Larry writes a weekly garden column for the Northwest Florida Daily News and has a weekly garden radio program for WAAZ 104.7 in Crestview.

He enjoys spending time with his two children, providing learning experiences for youth and adults through Extension Education and doing some gardening himself. He says, “Never underestimate the impact you’ll have on youth when teaching them about gardening.”

Larry Williams
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