About the Master Gardener volunteer program

Master Gardeners are your neighbors who share University research-based horticulture information

The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteer program started in 1977 with its first class of 25 people. Since then it has grown to include more than 2,300 active master gardeners who share U of M horticultural expertise in almost every county of the state of Minnesota.

The mission of the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program is to use research-based horticultural knowledge and practices to deliver educational outreach and project-based efforts that inspire change and promote healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet.

Active in your community

woman showing root system of plant to class of adults

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener activities benefit schools, community gardens, youth programs, environmental education programs, farmers markets and much more.

A Master Gardener is required to volunteer 50 hours during their first year as an intern and 25 hours annually thereafter as a certified active Master Gardener. Active volunteers also participate in 5 to 12 hours of continuing education per year.


Master Gardeners

  • teach classes and workshops to youth and adults
  • answer home gardening questions by phone
  • assist with county Horticulture Days
  • demonstrate horticulture techniques in community and school gardens
  • judge youth horticulture projects
  • give media interviews and write articles on horticulture topics
  • speak to schools and youth groups on gardening topics
  • hold plant clinics at garden centers and farmers markets
  • represent the program at county and state fair exhibits
  • teach horticulture in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement centers

Minnesota Master Gardeners by the numbers – 2017

  • 2,342 active volunteers
  • 145,134 hours volunteered
  • $3.5 million annual value (volunteer hours x $24.14 — the 2017 federal rate for volunteer hours)
  • 27,207 continuing education hours completed by volunteers to remain up-to-date on current horticulture topics and techniques

Master Gardener volunteers make a difference

It’s an exciting time for the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Thanks to the partnership between University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Master Gardeners have access to even more research-based continuing education opportunities on a variety of topics affecting the lives of Minnesotans, including local food, clean water, climate change, protecting pollinators and more.

graphic chart listing the seven priorities of the master gardener program that are described in the following text
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