Joe Wyatt
Published April 13, 2018

Tom Spencer, longtime host of the weekly Public Television series, Central Texas Gardener, will be the featured speaker when Amarillo College presents the inaugural installment of an exciting new STEM-focused lecture series.

AC’s biannual STEM Research Center Lecture Series debuts at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, April 26 in the Concert Hall Theater on the Washington Street Campus.

Spencer’s lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and community members are encouraged to reserve seats here.

The Spencer-hosted program Central Texas Gardener airs locally at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays on Panhandle PBS. The program showcases exquisite Central Texas gardens and instructs viewers how to create their own beautiful gardens.

Also an award-winning documentary director and well-known Austin radio host of The Greenthumb Hour, Spencer will deliver a lecture at AC called “My Life as a Gardener.” He will offer tips about preparing gardens for climate change and weather extremes, and he will share his thoughts about the spiritual side of gardening.

The lecture, which will appeal to gardening enthusiasts of every level of expertise, is but the first in an AC series that is made possible by a $4.9 million grant the College received in 2016 from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Hispanic-Serving Institution-STEM Grant empowered AC to vastly expand its academic offerings in fields related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The grant funded construction of a greenhouse facility – the STEM Research Center, which will be completed and ready for use early this summer. The grant also paved the way for several new certificate and degree programs that are currently being developed in Horticulture, Biotechnology, Environmental Science and Sustainable Resources.

The STEM Research Center Lecture Series is both a by-product and a condition of the grant; the College will utilize grant funds to present STEM-related lectures twice yearly over the next four years, a span in which one new STEM program will be rolled out annually.

Horticulture will be the first of the new programs offered, and students can begin that journey in full as early as next fall. The curriculum will be greatly enhanced by the fully functioning, technology-equipped STEM Research Center.

“With our highly anticipated launch this fall of the new Horticulture program, and because of the excitement surrounding the opening this summer of our STEM Research Center, we decided to ask a horticulture expert to be our first lecturer,” Gerek Burford, director of the STEM Research Center, said.

“Tom Spencer is a good orator with great knowledge, and I know that our students and anyone interested in gardening will enjoy his presentation. We invite the entire community to join us on April 26 for his lecture.”

For more information about Spencer’s lecture on April 26, the STEM Research Center Lecture Series in general, or the new academic opportunities being developed in STEM fields at AC, please contact Burford at 806-371-5152 or