About Prairie Yard & Garden
Prairie Yard & Garden, a 30-minute television show about gardening in the upper midwest. Prairie Yard and Garden is produced by the Media Services Department at the University of Minnesota, Morris in association with Pioneer Public Television on Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m.
Prairie Yard & Garden is a produced live and is transmitted to the Pioneer Public Television station in Appleton, Minn., via microwave, then retransmitted simultaneously to over 375,000 homes in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.
Larry Zilliox, former University of Minnesota Extension educator from Alexandria, Minn., is the new host of the successful gardening series. Zilliox replaced longtime host Sue Gooch in 2008 as she stepped down to spend more time nurturing her own backyard garden.
Each season, PY&G travels the state to meet with researchers, gardening and nursery professionals, educators and ordinary backyard gardeners to discuss specific issues in horticulture, landscaping and a host of topics in gardening.
Prairie Yard & Garden has grown into one of Minnesota’s top resources for gardening information. Produced on the historic campus of the University of Minnesota, Morris, Prairie Yard and Garden (PY&G) uses its affiliation with the University of Minnesota to bring important and tested horticultural information to gardeners, in a sometimes difficult and frustrating growing region.
The series is a cooperative effort between the University of Minnesota, Morris, and Pioneer Public Television, KWCM Appleton. Each season, researchers, gardening and nursery professionals, educators and ordinary backyard gardeners share with PY&G their experiences and discuss specific issues in horticulture, landscaping and a host of topics in gardening.
Guests of Prairie Yard & Garden have varied and impressive backgrounds; some are Minnesota Extension Service educators, county Master Gardeners, and University of Minnesota researchers and professors. However, many guests are people just like you or your neighbor next door, people who have a special interest or specialize in a specific aspect of gardening or horticulture. Quite often, these programs rank among the top episodes of PY&G by its viewers. Programs such as making a salsa garden, flower arranging, developing a cutting garden, using vegetables from the garden and landscaping are just some of the varied and specialized topics many of our garden enthusiasts bring to the program.
Prairie Yard & Garden has nurtured important relationships with prominent horticulture organizations such as the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, Minn. and the Minnesota Extension Service. These two entities bring both information and guests that are reliable and valuable to gardeners statewide, giving the Prairie Yard and Garden television series the credibility needed to be a top resource of horticulture information.
In the beginning, Prairie Yard & Garden was created to achieve one goal: to give valuable information to gardeners in west central Minnesota. Anyone who has a garden or anything that resembles a flower bed can attest to the fact that gardening in Minnesota and the upper midwest can be a real challenge.
Roger Boleman, director of Media Services at the University of Minnesota, Morris recalls how the show was inspired, "Pioneer Public Television approached us wanting to know if we would be interested in producing a gardening show. Pioneer Public Television had seen a gardening show on the Nebraska Public Television network, and they wanted to do one in Minnesota."
After about six months of planning and preparation, Prairie Yard & Garden grew out of a vision and bloomed into a reality on February 18, 1988. Funding from the Minnesota Extension services helped to finance and bring to life Prairie Yard & Garden.
The first season began with a ten-show commitment and a positive viewer response. The first shows did not have any feature segments or video taped material. It was a studio show where a discussion on gardening topics would be conducted by the host and guest of the show. The first host of Prairie Yard & Garden was Wes Gray, a University of Minnesota horticulturist.
After the successful first season time was spent searching for financial support from sponsors and underwriters to keep the show on the air. "During the second season, we didn't have the money needed to run the full ten shows like we had done the year before so we did five to make sure people didn't forget about the show," says Boleman, "By the third season, we were gaining more and more sponsors . . . we haven't looked back since." The crew of Prairie Yard & Garden were very dedicated to the show, so they volunteered their time to keep it going.
With more sponsors backing the show, Prairie Yard & Garden was able to focus on adding variety and new topics, eventually increasing the episode count from ten in the first season to 25 today.
About the Host
Larry Zilliox, host of Prairie Yard & Garden, graduated from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul with a bachelor of science in dairy husbandry in 1970 and a masters in agricultural education in 1984.
Larry has worked in a variety of roles first as an international 4-H youth exchange and development program in Botswana, Africa, to a pharmacist in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, Texas to positions as the University of Minnesota/Sibley County 4-H agent and as the University of Minnesota/Douglas County Extension Educator from 1978 to 2008. He's had various teaching experiences as a horticultural instructor for west central Minnesota's Master Gardener's Horticultural Days and as an instructor for a Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers workshop.
Larry wrote weekly agricultural articles for Z-Extension Line between 1978 and 2008 and even had his own Home Grown weekly call-in radio show for three years. He was the producer of a weekly community gardening show for one year and most recently has served as the host of Prairie Yard & Garden.
Larry is active in his community, having served on the Alexandria Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lakes Area Marketing, Inc. board of directors. He's a member of the Alexandria Rotary Club and has even served on the Alexandria Township He's been involved in a wide variety of university and professional organizational activities, serving on advisory boards, academic promotion committees, consultative committees and more. Larry is a member of the Minnesota State Horticulture Society and The University of Minnesota Arboretum in addition to several other memberships across the area.