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Become a Master Gardener volunteer

Master Gardeners talking with fairgoers

Who are Master Gardener volunteers?

  • Master Gardeners come from all walks of life.
  • They share gardening best practices that promote healthy landscapes, healthy foods and healthy lives.
  • They complete a core course taught by University faculty and Extension educators. 
  • Upon completing the core course, they contribute their time teaching research-based horticulture practices in their communities.

Important dates and deadlines

January 1 - December 31: Extension Master Gardener program year.

October 1: Deadline to apply to your local or county program.

Mid November: Deadline to submit background check data and view the Safety of Minors online training.

December 1: Deadline to register for the Extension Master Gardener Core Course.

Steps to becoming an Extension Master Gardener

1. Be selected by your county program for a Master Gardener internship

  • Complete and submit the online application by October 1.
  • Be selected for an interview.
  • Submit and pass a background check (online). All Master Gardener volunteers must repeat a background check every three years.
  • Receive notification that background check has cleared, then register for the core course and pay the $320 fee (includes $290 course and materials fee and $30 background check fee). Registration is due by December 1.

2. Complete the Extension Master Gardener core course

  • 48+ hours of basic horticulture education, offered annually, beginning in January.
  • Online and in-person options are available.
  • Online portion begins in January, and is self-paced through mid-May.

  • In-person sessions take place at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

  • All students must complete online quizzes for certification, so an active email address and reliable internet access is required.

  • Taught by Extension educators and faculty through the University of Minnesota.

3. Share your knowledge

  • Volunteer 50 hours on projects and events that deliver horticulture education and information to the public.
  • Volunteer and learn alongside experienced Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
  • Report your volunteer hours online by December 31.
  • Individuals who drop out of the internship before fulfilling the educational and volunteering requirements will be required to pay an additional $300.

4. Celebrate!

When your internship is completed, you'll start the next calendar year as an active University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener in your community.

5. Stay involved

To maintain your active Extension Master Gardener volunteer status, you will complete at least 25 hours of volunteering and required continuing education hours per year. Continuing education hours vary from 5 to 12 hours depending on county.

Questions?

Contact your local Master Gardener program.

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