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bob and betty anderl, Idaho Falls

learning best by helping others:

Bob and Betty Anderl are self-described "lifelong learners." When it came time to retire from their jobs (he as a physicist at the Idaho National Laboratory, she as a preschool teacher's aide), the Idaho Falls couple put their minds towards expanding their gardening know-how and helping others do the same.

"We tend to be service-oriented people who want to give back to the community, and the whole service component of the Master Gardener program is very attractive to us," says Bob. Additionally, "helping people is a wonderful way to learn: you have to dig for answers."

Not only do the Anderls now help fellow Bonneville County residents solve their gardening dilemmas at the Master Gardener plant clinic in the Extension office, but Betty inspires horticultural interest among 7- to 18-year-olds through the local Sprouts program. When their Advanced Master Gardener group decided to build raised garden beds at the Idaho Falls Good Samaritan Center, the Anderls joined in that project, too. "It was a big effort, and Good Sam couldn't afford to do it," Bob says.

In the process, adds Betty: "We've made some wonderful friends who have gardening as a main interest—and that's been really nice."

In their own yard, the Anderls have researched and applied organic techniques, improved their soil quality, and increased their irrigation efficiency. They've blended edibles with ornamentals (imagine rhubarb with a red climbing rose backdrop and irises interspersed with herbs). And, says Betty: "I'm getting further and further away from using fertilizers and pesticides. It's fun to see what I can come up with and do."