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University of Minnesota Extension

Become a Master Gardener volunteer

Who are Master Gardener volunteers?

Master Gardeners talking with fairgoers
  • Master Gardeners have diverse experiences and are in most Minnesota communities.
  • 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.
  • August 1: Application available.
  • October 1: Deadline to apply.
  • 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.
  • January: Core course begins.

Steps to become an Extension Master Gardener

1. Apply for a Master Gardener internship

  • Complete and submit the online application by October 1.
  • Meet with the volunteer program.
  • We'll show you how to submit a background check (online). All Master Gardener volunteers must renew the background check every three years.
  • Once you receive notice that your background check has cleared, you can register for the core course.
    • The course fee is $340 (or $389 with a printed companion guide).
    • Fee includes the background check and course.
    • Registration is due by December 1.

2. Complete the Extension Master Gardener core course

  • The horticulture education course takes 40-60 hours to complete and is offered annually.
  • The course is online for 2024. It begins in January and is self-paced through the end of April.
  • Taught by University of Minnesota Extension educators and faculty.
  • Attend bonus weekly online webinars with experts! Sessions are recorded to watch later.
  • All students must complete online quizzes for certification. An active email address and reliable internet access are required.

3. Share your knowledge

  • During your first year, volunteer 50 hours on projects and events that deliver horticulture education and information to the public.
  • 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 may be asked to pay the difference between the volunteer and non-volunteer rates for training.

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 your county.


Contact us at mgweb@umn.edu.

Reviewed in 2024

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