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Master Gardener Coordinator Courtney Coddington on her decision to come here, her role and why she likes her commute

Courtney Coddington is the University of Maryland Extension Carroll County's new home horticulture agent and Master Gardener program coordinator. Coddington is from Frederick and Garrett counties. She attended college at North Carolina State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in zoology and botany.

After interning with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Coddington was accepted into a graduate program for oyster aquaculture in the department of fisheries and allied aquacultures at Auburn University. She completed her graduate studies on Dauphin Island, where she helped develop the intensive oyster farming industry of Alabama by introducing techniques used on oyster farms in the Chesapeake Bay and Northeast. Although Coddington still can't pass up a freshly shucked oyster, she said she couldn't be happier living, working and farming in Frederick and Carroll counties.


Q: You have more than five years of experience. How and why did you get started in this field?

A: Upon graduation, I was presented with the opportunity to work in chemical efficacy research with the Department of Plant Pathology at N.C. State. I helped to conduct field trials that evaluated the rates of commonly used insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides on vegetable crops. The data collected from these trials was a valuable contribution to the industry, saving farmers thousands of dollars in chemical costs each year and ultimately reducing the environmental impacts required by each successful harvest, which valuable to me. I learned much about identifying disease and pest symptoms and even more about pesticide safety and Extension outreach. I know the value of Extension research and I like the satisfaction of providing reliable information that can be implemented immediately to solve a real-world problem.


Q: What drew you to this position?

A: I appreciated the challenge of identifying resident questions. In an agricultural setting, there are a few key crops and a handful of typical pests — in a residential setting, I get questions ranging from strange bug galls on a Goji Berry bush to treatments for rashes from Ailanthus tree sprouts. It is quite exciting to get samples of Asian pears one day and Black Widow spiders the next. I never know what is going to come through my door. I love solving the mystery and helping a resident at the same time, although they may not always share my excitement for the "diligence of weeds or diversity of bugs." Lastly, I was drawn to this position because it's located right in the heart of Carroll County. My commute is little different than most people's Sunday afternoon scenic drive — beautiful farmland and historical towns. There's no better community to serve than right here.

Q: How did your past experiences prepare you for this role?

A: I have a natural curiosity for plants and insects. Additionally, my crop research experience serves me well when classifying samples as insect damage, nutrient deficiency, disease or chemical injury. It helps to have a good sense of humor, too.

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Q: Is there anything about the job or the field that you think people don't appreciate or don't know about, though maybe they should?

A: Master Gardeners are volunteers for the University of Maryland Extension Services. I think some people would be surprised to know that the Master Gardeners donate their time, knowledge and hard work to support the educational programs we conduct each year. We have individuals that volunteer 300 or more hours each year to grow and create programs for children, adults, and seniors. It's pretty impressive, and I'm lucky to have such a great group of volunteers.

Q: Once you settle in this new position, are there any projects you would like to undertake, or are there any ongoing projects or challenges you look forward to working on?

A: Currently, I am going through the old programming and files to make sure they are up-to-date with the current mission of the University of Maryland Extension Program. I am trying to take the time to get to know all of the Master Gardeners and Carroll County community members as well. I look forward to spending the fall and winter planning a new schedule of programs and events for 2018. I have had quite a few requests for an expanded version of our traditional wintertime vegetable gardening classes, so that should be fun to incorporate some new topics into the old routine.