Ron Smith, Extension Horticulturist
Please contact the Cooperative Extension Service in your state for resources and answers to your questions.
Thanks for your interest in my website ( http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/hortiscope/contents.htm ). Please explore all the information it contains as your question may have already been answered.
Due to the overwhelming volume of E-Mail received, it is likely that I will not be able to respond to your inquiry unless you identify yourself as a North Dakota resident.
You will receive more detailed answers and information from your Local County Extension Agent for the following reasons:
"Hortiscope: Origin, and Evolution" Ron Smith, NDSU Extension Horticulturist
In 1983 "Hortiscope" was officially initiated by the Assistant Extension Horticulturist, Don Kinzler. It was picked up locally by a few papers, and 100% of the inquiries came from ND residents via surface mail. When Kinzler left the extension service, Bob Askew, Extension Horticulturist carried it for a little more than a year until I was hired in June 1985. After a brief "breaking in period" of a couple of months, the column was turned over to me officially in September 1985.
Still being a simple Q&A column where 100% of the mail came via surface and from ND residents, the task took no more than 3-4 hours a week to answer during the busiest part of the year. Then the Internet arrived, and "Hortiscope" was given its own web site, being designed and maintained by Dave Rice, NDSU's Ag Webmaster.
Slowly the site gained popularity as more people had access to computers at home and work. The emails have steadily increased to the point now, where it is physically impossible to keep up with the inflow - even with over 40 hours a week being committed to the effort. This not only leads to frustration at not being able to keep up with all of the questions, but it greatly dilutes my other responsibilities in extension, teaching, and research. Consequently, I am making the following changes:
1. Since I am employed by the NDSU Extension Service as Horticulturist, my first responsibilities are to the ND taxpayers. Consequently, I am asking all who make contact with me to identify themselves as ND residents if that is the case. I will do my best to answer your questions as quickly as possible, directly and personally. What the editors of the newspapers do with this is their business, but you will get a direct answer from me.
2. Those who do not ID themselves as ND residents, your questions will be reviewed, and if relevant to a broad audience, including ND citizens, I will answer you directly. If your questions are repetitive or closely so to others that have been asked, I suggest that you search the website thoroughly for an answer. If you don't find an answer there, then email me directly, but be patient, and I will do my best to get back to you.
3. Many of the questions that are asked could easily be answered by local experts - in fact, in many cases, much better than I could. Contact the Extension Service in your county first, to see if they have a horticulturist on board; if not, then go to the Land Grant University in your state, making contact with the state Extension Horticulturist there. Often too, the state Extension Forester can respond if your questions are about tree care or problems. Lacking the ability to make good contact at either place, I suggest that a Google search be made for the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified Arborists in your area. These are well-trained and educated folks on tree care who will also make an effort to help you.
4. Finally, those who do write directly to me, please be specific with your questions - give me enough details so that I can make a rational judgement. For example: "I was wondering what I could do to revive my arborvitaes?" is a question I cannot answer. Where are they planted? What are the symptoms? How old are they? Any recent environmental event take place that could be the cause of decline? What kind of care, if any, is being provided for them? And more.
NDSU's webmaster has done a fantastic job of getting things relevant on the Hortiscope website, so please review that first before coming to me with your questions. I often simply refer inquiries to particular locations for the answers.
Finally, should the volume drop and I find that I can in fact keep up with the inflow, I certainly will respond personally to each inquiry. Thank you for your patience, and for your interest in subjects horticultural!
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