Become a master gardener


What Is A Master Gardener: Learn About Master Gardener Training

So you say you want to become a master gardener? What is a master gardener and what steps must be taken to achieve that goal? Extension services in your locality are a good place to start gathering information. Master gardening programs are community and volunteer based horticultural education services. Becoming a master gardener allows you to spread your knowledge, learn more about gardening and service your municipality.

Master garden training is a lengthy process with annually required retraining hours. It also involves up to 50 volunteer hours per year, but if you like helping others and have a passion for gardening, becoming a master gardener may be for you. Extension services in your area are government run organizations that train master gardeners and provide opportunities to serve.

What is a Master Gardener?

A master gardener is a citizen that is interested in gardening and can fulfill the training and volunteer hours necessary. Requirements vary by

county and state, and the course is tailored for that specific region. You will receive special education on the soils in your area, the types of native plants, insect and disease issues, basic botany and other information pertinent to your gardening zone.

The educational opportunity to learn specifics about where you garden will not only help you become a better gardener but is then passed along to the general public in lectures, clinics and through newsletters.

How to Become a Master Gardener

The first step to becoming a master gardener is to fill out an application. You can get this online at your County Extension offices website. Once you have your application in, information will be sent to you on how to become a master gardener and to let you know when training begins.

Training is typically in the winter months of January through March. This allows the new master gardener to be ready for the volunteer service requirements at the start of the gardening season. Volunteer hours vary by county but are typically 50 hours the first year and 20 hours in subsequent years.

Master Gardening Programs

Once you have completed approximately 30 hours of training, the opportunities to serve are nearly endless. Participation in scheduled gardening clinics at schools, garden and community centers and plant fairs are a few possibilities.

Additionally, you can meet seniors, students and other gardening enthusiasts to exchange information and hone your skills. You may also be asked to write articles and participate in publications.

Annually, you also get the opportunity to get more training and glean new information to share. Master gardener training is a chance to give back to your community and learn more about your favorite hobby — gardening.

The Texas Master Gardener program is an educational volunteer program conducted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service of the Texas A&M University System. Master Gardeners are members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens. They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and help others and able to communicate with diverse groups of people. What really sets Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture. In exchange for their training, persons who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their county’s Texas AgriLife Extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their communities.

Note: Master Gardeners are representatives of Texas AgriLife Extension. In all volunteer work related to the program, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of Texas AgriLife Extension. The title “Texas Master Gardener” can be used by volunteers only when engaged in Extension-sponsored activities.

Is the Master Gardener program for me?

  • Do you want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants?
  • Are you eager to participate in a practical and intense training program?
  • Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge with people?
  • Do you have enough time to attend training and complete volunteer service hour requirements?
  • Do you have special interests that could benefit the community or an interest in developing one? (i.e. bird or butterfly knowledge, native gardens, wildflowers, etc.)
  • Do you have a sincere interest in nature or gardening?


If accepted into the Master Gardener program, you will be required to attend over 50 hours in specialized training courses. The program offers instruction in lawn care; ornamental trees and shrubs; insect, disease, and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production; garden flowers; perennials and annuals; and water conservation. Contact your county’s Extension office for more information or to apply.

In exchange for training, participants are asked to volunteer their time to their county’s AgriLife Extension program. The type of service performed by Master Gardeners varies according to community needs and the abilities and interests of the Master Gardeners. Some Master Gardeners answer telephone requests for information related to gardening. Others staff plant clinics or displays in shopping malls or community centers. Master Gardeners may speak to local groups and conduct workshops. They may help establish community garden projects, work with 4-H youth, or assist their agent with news or radio releases related to gardening. The Master Gardener Coordinator in the County Extension office decides how volunteer time can be best utilized.

Participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed the training course and fulfilled their volunteer commitment.

A Master Gardener

Josh Byrne

JOSH BYRNE: Not long after I moved into Freemantle, I was strolling down the street for a coffee when suddenly a voice boomed out.

IVAN RADICH: Hey. Gardener Boy. Come and see best vegie garden in Freemantle.

JOSH BYRNE: Naturally, I was intrigued. Best vegie garden in Freo! It’s a big call. And given the size of the bloke, I thought I’d let the Garden Boy thing just slip through to the keeper.

Hey Ivan. How are you going mate?

IVAN RADICH: Very good Jeff?

JOSH BYRNE: Good to see you. How are the crops going?

IVAN RADICH: Yeah. Come and see.

JOSH BYRNE: Over the years, we’ve become great friends.

Ivan Radich came from Croatia as a young man. He’s a bricklayer, but used to be a market gardener and for the past 30 years, he’s been growing food to help feed his family. And as we can see, they’re not going hungry.

Lettuce, Capsicum, Figs, Pomegranates, Olives and Grapes. The list goes on and on. Now, a garden this productive doesn’t just happen. And remember, Ivan has day job as well. Time to learn some Croatian gardening secrets.

Ok, so you scratch it with your hoe.

IVAN RADICH: We scratch with the hoe like this.

JOSH BYRNE: And that gets rid of the weeds?

IVAN RADICH: Yes. Just scratch the weeds like this.

JOSH BYRNE: But also disturbs the slaters you say.

IVAN RADICH: That’s right. It disturbs the slater’s eggs. They never lay eggs. They go down with the bush.



JOSH BYRNE: And how often do you have to water?

IVAN RADICH: Every day for 15 minutes. One section for 15 minutes and then another section. Every day. Evening.

JOSH BYRNE: Even when it’s hot?

IVAN RADICH: Evening. Never do in the morning. Never.

JOSH BYRNE: And you’re a big believer in air flow around the vegetables.

IVAN RADICH: Oh yeah. You must have air flow. If you don’t have airflow, everything get cooked.


Beautiful grapes Ivan, but it looks like you’ve got some bid problems.

IVAN RADICH: Yeah, parrots.

JOSH BYRNE: Ok and how are you solving that? Witha bit of protective mesh?

IVAN RADICH: Protective mesh and also I put this scarecrow here.

JOSH BYRNE: Looks like you mate.

IVAN RADICH: Yeah. It look like me eh?

JOSH BYRNE: It’s your favourite jumper. It’s working though with the flyscreen mesh?

IVAN RADICH: That works very well. Very well. I never realised, but it works.

JOSH BYRNE: It’s a good sized sweet potato patch Ivan.


JOSH BYRNE: How do you propagate your sweet potato? From tuber or from the runner?

IVAN RADICH: From the runner. You make a ground for the runner. You’ve already got a runner like this. Put 4 inches. Just stick in the ground.

JOSH BYRNE: Keep it moist?

IVAN RADICH: Keep it moist. One week and they start growing.

JOSH BYRNE: And you can eat this too of course.

IVAN RADICH: Oh you can eat this one if you wanted.

JOSH BYRNE: You steam it like a vegetable.

IVAN RADICH: Yeah, like vegie. Exactly the same.

JOSH BYRNE: And there’s loads more practical tips to pick up in Ivan’s garden.

This is what I’m talking about. Ivan’s been growing this large, fruiting variety of tomato for years, saving the seed at the end of every season for the following year. You’ve probably noticed, I’m actually sitting underneath shadecloth. Ivan, how do you use the shadecloth?

IVAN RADICH: Only when there’s 40 degrees heat that I put it up so the crop don’t get burned. Then after one week, or whenever it becomes cooler, take it off or keep there for a while. If the tomato becomes yellow, it means they need the sun. Take it off. Then after one week, the tomato becomes normal again.

JOSH BYRNE: So just in extreme heat?

IVAN RADICH: Very extreme heat.

JOSH BYRNE: Loads of onions and garlic Ivan. Can I grab a bunch?


JOSH BYRNE: So how long do you store it in here for?

IVAN RADICH: For six months.

JOSH BYRNE: And it doesn’t get damp?

IVAN RADICH: No. No damp. Only air coming through.

JOSH BYRNE: Ok, so well ventilated.

IVAN RADICH: Yeah. Very important.

I use it for the chickens. When the chickens lay eggs in their nest, all this from the garlic, all these leaves, put it down where the chicken’s laying eggs, like now. When the chickens are sitting here, the fleas run away.

JOSH BYRNE: So it repels the mites and fleas?

IVAN RADICH: Yeah. Whatever you call it. Chase the fleas.

JOSH BYRNE: And very effective?

IVAN RADICH: Oh yeah, yeah. Definitely.

JOSH BYRNE: How much time to do spend in the garden each day to keep it looking like this?

JOSH BYRNE: So you speak to your plants?

IVAN RADICH: Oh yeah. I say, ‘What’s wrong with you tomato? Why not giving a good crop?’ It fix things right. Definitely. Otherwise crop not grow if you no speak to them.

JOSH BYRNE: I reckon this place really is a backyard paradise, but is it the best vegie garden in Freemantle? Well, it’s a tough call and it really doesn’t matter. Each time I come to Ivan’s place, he loads me up with fresh produce and I walk home dreaming of a bigger garden.

IVAN RADICH: See you gardener boy.

STEPHEN RYAN: I think Josh might have got himself a new nickname there. Now, because ABC TV is covering the Paralympic Winter Games, we’re not going to be on air for the next two weeks, so if you’d like to keep up with preview stories and insider information, you might like to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Simply go to our website to the ‘Community’ section and get all the details.

So next time, Jane meets a couple who have turned the concept of the Australian Dream on its head, by creating their garden before building their home.

Whether you want to create a whole new garden or just invigorate a small part of it, John presents a step by step guide on home to make your dream come true.

So we’ll be back in two week’s time with brand new episodes, but in the meantime, there’s lots to be doing in the garden, so get cracking.

FREE Intro to Oregon Master Gardener Program

This series of short courses is excerpted from OSU’s Master Gardener online course, allowing you to study specific fundamentals of gardening. In the free Oregon Master Gardener Program, you will be introduced to the Oregon Master Gardener Program and the role Master Gardener volunteers play.

Master Gardener Short Course Series

OSU’s Master Gardener Short Course Series includes the following 12 on-demand gardening courses:

1) Free Intro to Oregon Master Gardener Program

2) Basic Botany Online Course

3) Soils and Compost Online Course

4) Vegetable Gardening Online Course

5) Introduction to Entomology Online Course

6) Plant Pathology Online Course

7) Pesticide Safety Online Course

8) Herbaceous Ornamental Plants Online Course

9) Sustainable Landscape Design Online Course

10) Sustainable Landscape Management Online Course

11) Integrated Pest Management Online Course

12) Woody Landscape Plants Online Course

Please note: If you’re interested in receiving a Certificate of Home Horticulture or becoming an OSU Master Gardener, please visit the Master Gardener Online page. The on-demand short courses are designed to boost your expertise, however, they will not lead to the full Certificate of Home Horticulture. Also please note, you will have access to the on-demand course materials for one year after your registration date.


Gardening and landscaping can transform your life—by adding green space and becoming immersed in the natural world, you can alleviate stress, increase relaxation, and be rewarded by lush greenery and food that will create a vibrant sensory experience. Being outdoors increases fitness and many gardeners feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment after spending hours cultivating a thriving garden. In short, gardening can make you feel fantastic!

Udemy is an excellent resource for those looking to learn about gardening, but not pay too much. Offering courses in organic gardening, growing a permaculture-style food garden, aquaponics, and the mountain plants of southwest China, these diverse courses will train you about unique aspects of gardening, soil maintenance, and plant diversity. You will learn how to scale your projects to maximize your garden’s output, which can benefit any gardener! Perfect for those who want to wet their interest in gardening!

Provider Course
Udemy Year Round Gardening
Udemy The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening
Udemy Organic Soil Building for the Backyard Organic Gardener
Udemy How To Start An Organic Garden
Udemy Gardening 101: Step by Step From Dream to Harvest!

Gardening and landscaping can be a tricky proposition—sustaining plant life is involved work that connects you to an entire ecosystem. However, with the right knowledge and aptitudes, you can turn a bland, boring outdoor space with a lively, colorful explosion of flowers, fruit, vegetables, and foliage. Adding green space is an invaluable way to improve your life, health, and property value too!

If you are looking to learn how to effectively grow and care for a garden, taking one of these online courses can help your garden thrive! From beginning courses to advance-level Master Gardening courses, these interactive tutorials will help you transform any space into an vivid, ornate experience. Whether you are looking to grow your own vegetable or fruit garden, transform a dull space with some handy landscaping, or are trying to simply maintain a few succulents or flowers indoors, we have found some great courses for you!

Gardening can also become a lucrative career for those willing to gain the right credentials or experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gardeners, farmers, and landscapers can make anywhere from around $34,000 to over $60,000. If you are committed to getting your hands dirty, making an impact on people’s lives, or want to provide valuable access to the natural world, you should consider a career or degree in gardening, horticulture, sustainability, or landscaping!

Accredited Online Gardening, Landscaping & Horticulture Degrees & Certificates

Online horticulture courses and gardening courses taught by best-selling authors, acclaimed garden designers and RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winners. Over 30 courses to choose from including garden design courses, vegetable gardening courses, flower arranging courses and more.

Oregon State University (B.S. in Horticulture): Are you looking to gain a comprehensive education in horticulture? Oregon State University has an incredible online program that covers almost any plant-related topic you may think up and will prepare you to enter numerous horticultural, conservational, and agricultural career paths! OSU’s program has heavy biological emphasis toward mastering the understanding of ecosystems. You will get to take great courses like Forage Production; Plagues, Pests, and Politics; Honeybee Biology & Beekeeping; as well as, bigger picture courses in environmental policy, business management, and sustainability. If you are looking for a serious program invested in making sure its students succeed and become equipped with exemplary skills, look no further than Oregon State!

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Graduate Certificate in Horticulture): If you have a bachelor’s degree and want to learn more about horticulture and best gardening practices, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers an incredible online certificate program with three specialization areas: Advanced Horticulture, Floriculture & Nursery Production Management, and Ornamentals, Landscape, and Turf. These three certificates will equip you with the skills and knowledge to tackle large-scale, professional horticulture projects. If you are intent on mastering advanced-level horticulture, landscaping, and gardening techniques, this certificate program is perfect for you!

University Program of Study
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Horticulture Certificate Program
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Advanced Horticulture Certificate
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Floriculture Certificate
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Ornamentals Landscape and Turf

Washington State University Global Campus (Organic Agriculture Undergraduate Certificate): Washington State University offers an 18-credit, 6-course organic agriculture certificate program that will prepare you to take on many small and large scale gardening and farming operations. You will be trained in agriculture science, which includes courses in organic gardening and farming, soil systems, agroecology, a professional internship, and electives in soil sciences, horticulture, business, nutrition, and analysis. A truly unique program, WSU’s certificate will make sure that you are thoroughly prepared to begin working in organic farming, gardening, and horticulture. If you are interested in organic food, sustainability, and horticulture, be sure to check out this fantastic program today!

Academy of Art University (AA, BFA, and MFA in Landscape Architecture): Landscaping can transform a mundane plot of land, a crowded back yard, or even a gigantic maze of a garden into a magical experience, or even simply be able to help you relax within a space. The Academy of Art in San Francisco offers an incredible experience where you will be able to learn how to design spaces into practical, engaging green spaces. If you are interested in using plants to shape an experience, as well as be able to turn urban spaces into enjoyable, interactive escapes, you should consider becoming a landscape architect. Course work includes classes in: Plants as Design, Grading and Drainage, Computer Aided Design, Site Planning, Garden Design, Water Features for Outdoor Environments, Landscape Social Factors, and many more! Join top landscaping professors and begin to shape the world around you with aesthetically pleasing landscapes!

UMass Amherst (Certificate in Sustainable Food and Farming): The University of Massachusetts-Amherst has developed a unique and important online certificate program that those seriously committed to sustainability and food production should pay close attention to. This 15-credit, 5 course certificate program will teach you about Sustainable Farming Systems, including “sustainable and organic plant and animal production systems for managing regionally focused (local) farms, organic farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, and personal homesteads;” Education and Outreach, which will prepare you for promoting, educating, and learning about sustainability and farming; and Public Policy and Advocacy, which will help you navigate the political and organizational waters of sustainability and food-rights campaigns.

This is a tremendous program design to equip you with the skills and knowledge to partake in sustainable farming, gardening, and policy issues. Credit for this program may be used for credit for UMass Amherst’s Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Food and Farming and the University Without Walls Sustainability Studies degree completion program.

Cornell University (Distance Learning Courses): Cornell University’s extension offers some amazing horticulture and gardening courses that will challenge you to truly green your thumb. Offering courses in Permaculture, Botanical Illustration, and general Gardening, these courses will equip you with the skills needed to dig in and get to know the plants you are growing in your garden. You will learn best techniques for growing a flourishing gardening, as well as the ideas you should be thinking about while planning and designing your garden. Cornell’s program is an incredibly unique program that makes gardening an art. Not a program to be missed!

University Course
Cornell University Distance learning
Cornell University Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design
Cornell University Permaculture Design: Ecosystem Mimicry
Cornell University Botanical Illustration I: Basic Drawing Techniques
Cornell University Botanical Illustration II: Working with watercolor
Cornell University Organic gardening
Cornell University Introduction to Garden Design

Self-Guided Online Gardening, Horticulture & Landscaping Courses

If you have your own garden, count yourself as privileged. This space connects you with nature. What’s better than growing fruits and vegetables? To enjoy the beauty of your garden, you need to put a lot of effort to make it beautiful. The right selection of plants for your garden is critical. Plants give color and texture to your garden. Before you start transforming your garden into something beautiful or fruitful, you need to learn about plants and the operational challenges of each type of gardening. We have put together a list of our favorite self-guided courses to help you with.

Sunny Green, Beginner’s Guide to Gardening with a Raised Bed Garden: The course covers every aspect of how to make a raised bed garden. If you don’t have any previous experience with gardening, this is the right course for you! The instructor will explain which equipment to use. There will be a small demo project, where you follow along with the teacher to make a raised bed garden. The program focuses on minimal materials, cost, and equipment. The step-by-step instructions will encourage everybody who wants to make their gardens beautiful. After the course, you will have enough knowledge to make your own raised bed garden.

Sylvia Bernstein, Aquaponic Gardening: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together: The first thing that you are going to learn in the course is what is Aquaponics? Which are benefits of this system? If you have a dream to grow your own organic food, this course is for you. You will learn how to raise fish and plants together. The lessons will follow the instructor’s book the Aquaponic Gardening. You will learn how to make a plan, how to choose a system you’re going to build. Next, you will learn which hardware and systems to use. By the end of the course, you will learn how to grow an entire dinner, right in your backyard!

Teena Spindler, Vegetable Gardening: How to Grow Healthy, Fresh Food at Home: Do you want to produce lots of great tasting fruits and veggies? If you answer is yes, follow these step-by-step instructions. Whether you are a beginner or advanced gardener, take the course. Everybody will learn something new and exciting. The class has eight sections, and each chapter contains multiple lectures. Through these lectures, the instructor will cover the following fields. You will learn about soil preparation, choosing plants, planting, and maintenance. In the end, you will gain enough knowledge to grow healthy food. The most important thing, you will have enough confidence and stop questioning your actions.

Maria Janowiak, A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening in Cold Climates: Grow flowers, vegetables, and other plants in cold climate regions. If you live in a place in which threes lose their leaves in autumn, then you live in a cold climate! People who want to start with gardening in a cold climate should enroll in the course. The course is designed for beginners. If you wish to try a new hobby or start a gardening business, the course will provide you with essential fundamentals. The teacher will talk about gardening styles, improving garden soils, planting and tending plants.

Rick Stone, The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening: This is a two-hour basic gardening course. It is designed for people with no or a little gardening experience. The course consists of three sections. Students will learn where to plant a garden, when to plant a garden and what they should be planting. These are the basics that every person who has a garden should know. Whether you are a gardener or not, the course is helpful and full of useful information. Enroll in find out interesting things about gardening.

Meg Smolinski, Easily Grow Flowers, Herbs, & More With Container Gardening: Gardening is a fulfilling hobby. People who don’t have enough space often avoid growing flowers. This shouldn’t be the main reason to avoid such a beautiful hobby. This course is designed for people who have small places. If you are new to container gardening, the course is for you. You will learn how to choose containers and where to place them in your garden. Next, the teacher will explain which plants to choose for optimal plant growth. People who live in apartments are ideal candidates for the course.

Linda Kelso, Gardening Know How: Attracting Birds and Butterflies: Why do we want birds and butterflies in our yards? Birds and butterflies can make a beautiful picture of our yards. Students will have an opportunity to learn how to attract birds and butterflies to their yards. Beauty is not the only benefit of having a birds and butterflies friendly yard. They can increase vegetable and fruit yield, reduce the number of mosquitoes and eliminate pesticide use. If you have these problems, it would be good to take this course. By attending the class, you will find out which flowers and trees attract birds and butterflies.

Rick Stone, Year Round Gardening: Do you like to eat fresh and organic food? Everybody does. You can try to find a store that sells organic food. But, how can you be sure that it is 100% organic food? The truth is, you can have organic vegetables in your own garden. Just follow the instructions from the course and you will learn to do that. You need a little planning and finding the right structure to protect your crops. The course is designed for everyone who lives in cold freezing areas. For example, you will learn how to grow lettuce in December or carrots or spinach in January. At the end of the course, you will know how to grow your favorite vegetables at any time of the year.

Marleny Franco, Soil, The Key To Organic Gardening: Marleny Franco has 25 years of experience in gardening. She has a Master’s degree in Plant Physiology from Rutgers University. Many people avoid talking about soil because it is boring to them. But, soil plays the most important role in organic gardening. If a soil is healthy, a plant will be healthy and our food will be healthy. Since the instructor considers this important and relevant to the field, the course will be dedicated to this topic. You will learn about fertilization, maintaining soil and learn which organisms live in it. Everyone who wants to improve the quality of their soil should consider the course.

Doug Green, Vegetable Gardening: Smart Techniques for Plentiful Results: Doug Green is a gardening expert. The primary mission for the course is to provide instructions for people who want to grow healthy and stronger vegetables. Doug is going to teach you master techniques for developing soil and pest control. Which are the best ways to give your plant nutrition? What are the main benefits of this? How to make a greenhouse with only two materials? Enroll in the course and find out the answers to these exciting questions. People with the previous experience in the field of gardening should consider the course.

Ellen Ogden, Designing Elegant Edible Gardens: Turn an ordinary vegetable garden into a kitchen garden! If you are interested in kitchen garden history, sign up for this course. That is what you are going to learn in one of the course’s chapters. After these lessons, you will be inspired to make your own kitchen garden. Ellen Ogden, the teacher of the course, will help you to design an elegant garden. By using Ellen’s five steps to successful design, you will make a garden that is memorable and functional. Every plan starts with a pen and paper. You will learn how to design your dream garden and transform it into a reality.

Andy & Karen Chapman, Building a Raised-Bed Garden: Andy and Karen will help you to build a raised-bed garden. The teachers are going to take you through the project step by step. You will learn which materials, tools, and skills you need to build your own raised-bad garden. They combine their talents and expertise to demonstrate how to perform the task. Andy is going to show you how to design and construct a raised bed. Karen will talk about soil and planting, irrigation systems and how to extend your garden. Join the course and keep your plants healthy and hardy.

Jenny Peterson, Gorgeous Garden Design: Function & Style: Create a beautiful outdoor garden that is appealing. What is garden style? How do you find your own style? If you don’t know the answers, join the course and get some inspiration. Jenny Peterson is a garden author and speaker. In the class, she will provide three different styles of gardens. These are peaceful, entertaining and mixed styles. For each of these styles, the teacher will explain design principles and illustrate the details. Jenny will also take into consideration your space and your budget. The course will cover cool features like subtle water and soothing lighting.

Stefani Bittner, Grow Better Greens From Seed to Salad: The most delicious salad is from your garden. In this course, you are going to learn how to grow healthy greens and herbs in your own backyard. You need to find the perfect spot in your yard where plants will get all essential nutrients. You will learn how to water and fertilize your plants and how to keep pesticides out of your garden. The most delicious salads are made from freshly collected ingredients. Following this, the teacher will teach you how to combine different ingredients to make a delightful salad.

Ed2Go: Grow delicious, nutritious fruit and vegetables in your own backyard! With these courses, you’ll learn how to give your garden a healthy start and keep it growing strong all season. You’ll begin by figuring out which type of garden is right for you. Not everyone has the same amount of time, space, or sunshine, so the first step to a great harvest is selecting the right crops. You’ll explore climate considerations, learn how to read a zone hardiness map, and find out how to spot a micro-climate in your yard.

MyGardenSchool: Offering over 26 advanced-level and beginner courses, MyGardenSchool is a phenomenal and affordable option for those looking to gain some serious skills and experience in the garden. These courses will prepare you to think critically about how to approach the sustainability and viability of a long term and short term planting. If you want to grow your own food, strategically plant to attract butterflies or hummingbirds, or even learn the basics of apiary studies, these courses will blow you away! Be sure to check these courses out immediately!

Academy for Distance Learning: Providing a compendium of over 120 gardening and horticulture courses, the Academy for Distance Learning provides expert education in topic specific areas such as African Violets or Carnivorous Plants. These thorough, fully-developed courses will challenge you to learn and engage your learning with hands-on, interactive assignments. ADL offers almost every gardening course you could think up and will be a boon to your learning, especially if you want to learn unique and diverse gardening techniques for esoteric or rare horticulture areas. Do not miss this amazing courses!

Provider Course
ADL Horticulture Courses Online
ADL Advanced Diploma in Plant Science course online
ADL Advanced Permaculture course online
ADL Arboriculture I course online
ADL Basic Plant Biochemistry course online
ADL Bonsai Course course online
ADL Berry Production course online
ADL Cacti & Succulents course online
ADL Culinary Herbs Course course online
ADL Home Garden Expert Course course online
ADL Horticulture I course online
ADL Mushroom Cultivation course online
ADL Managing Notable Gardens course online

Universal Class: Universal Class offers some great short courses where you can even earn professional development for an affordable price. Whether you are looking to learn about the basics of gardening, landscaping, floral arrangement, or even vegetable gardening, these courses present incredible, useful skills and knowledge and engaging, informational tutorials. Building upon previous lessons, these courses will also make sure you actually learn and retain applicable experience so that you can create a magnificent garden! For the price alone, these courses are a great investment if you want to green your life!

Provider Course
Universal Class Online Course Search
Universal Class Introduction to Gardening
Universal Class Vegetable Gardening 101
Universal Class Landscaping 101
Universal Class Tropical Gardens 101
Universal Class Floral Arrangement 101

Udemy: Udemy is an excellent resource for those looking to learn about gardening, but not pay too much. Offering courses in organic gardening, growing a permaculture-style food garden, aquaponics, and the mountain plants of southwest China, these diverse courses will train you about unique aspects of gardening, soil maintenance, and plant diversity. You will learn how to scale your projects to maximize your garden’s output, which can benefit any gardener! Perfect for those who want to wet their interest in gardening!

Provider Course
Udemy Year Round Gardening
Udemy The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening
Udemy Organic Soil Building for the Backyard Organic Gardener
Udemy How To Start An Organic Garden
Udemy Gardening 101: Step by Step From Dream to Harvest!

The Great Courses: Are you looking for an affordable, short course on learning how to garden or looking to learn a comprehensive approach to gardening through biology? The Great Courses offers a great learning opportunity for those wanting to green their thumbs and don’t have a lot of space to grow anything. These courses are perfect for those looking to add vivacity and pride to their green spaces, as well as those wanting to grow their own fruit, vegetables, herbs, and other colorful plants. If you want to learn how to grow anything, or haven’t had much success as a gardener, you should check out these amazing courses!

Provider Course
The Great Courses The Great Courses
The Great Courses How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips & Techniques
The Great Courses How to Grow Anything: Your Best Garden and Landscape in 6 Lessons
The Great Courses How to Grow Anything: Your Best Garden and Landscape in 6 Lessons & How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips and Techniques (Set)
The Great Courses Biology: The Science of Life

Gardening, Landscaping & Horticulture MOOCs (Free Open Courses)

Tufts University: Tufts University’s Open Courseware has two important courses archived. If you are engaged in any small to large scale agriculture projects, Tufts offers a two section “Agricultural Science and Policy,” that will help you understand the science and politics of farming. You learn the major biological, chemical, and physical components of agriculture systems, as well as the scientific basis for their management and systems. This is important, because the second part of the course will engage you in the policy side of farming, which gets into the minutiae and practices of how agriculture interacts on an economic, sociologic, and politic scale. This is especially recommended for those wanting to learn more about sustainability practices and the policies that surround those issues. Be sure to not miss the latter half of this two-part course!

MIT OpenCourseWare: MIT OpenCourseWare is a tremendous resource for those looking to learn online for free. Their course offerings for gardening, horticulture, and landscaping do not disappoint. Offering advanced-level courses in soil science, environmental ecology, and plant biology, these courses will intrigue and astound even the most pedestrian horticulture hobbyist. If you are looking to seriously learn about the processes and sciences that go into gardening, MIT courses will prepare you with professional skills and knowledge to take your garden to the next level. Advanced Soil Mechanics is a must for those looking for studying agriculture, sustainability practices, and large gardening projects!

Provider Course
MIT OpenCourseWare Find Courses by Topic
MIT OpenCourseWare Soil Behavior
MIT OpenCourseWare Advanced Soil Mechanics
MIT OpenCourseWare Environmental Microbiology
MIT OpenCourseWare The Environment of the Earth’s Surface
MIT OpenCourseWare Global Warming Science
MIT OpenCourseWare Analytical Techniques for Studying Environmental and Geologic Samples
MIT OpenCourseWare Surface Processes and Landscape Evolution

Coursera: Starting October 26th, Coursera, partnering with Tel Aviv University, will be offering a fascinating course titled, “What a Plant Knows (and other things you didn’t know about plants).” This course will examine how plants interact with the world and how we can learn from their responses. This course will examine basic plant biology, explore memory and conscious, and mostly blow your mind with its amazing information! Sign up today! is a great source for free, open-source course materials drawn from professional and academic sources into one full course. Saylor’s course on Botany is one exemplary course drawing from diverse, challenging sources that will engage you to learn more about Botany and plant biology. If you want to take your gardening to the next level, Saylor’s courses will allow you to explore the scientific and research-based side of horticulture. Presented in four units (Plant Anatomy, Plant Physiology, Evolution and Taxonomy, and Plant Ecology), you will gain a cornucopia of knowledge and have lifetime access to resources, quizzes, and exams in case you ever want to refresh your knowledge. Additionally, this course is great for supplementary material if you are taking any other courses!

Gardening Resources

PlantVillage: Do you have a specific question about growing a plant or want to learn about what you grow? PlantVillage is a community forum dedicated to helping people grow their own food and an excellent resource for those looking to grow new kinds of foods, prevent plant infections, and ask questions to an engaged community. It’s a perfect resource for those looking for specific questions, just beginning to garden, and those who are having a tough time in the garden.

Iowa State University Horticulture Extension: Iowa State University has one of the best Agriculture programs in the world. Luckily for everyone, ISU offers an exemplary extension and outreach for pressing, hard to solve gardening questions. Offering a vast array of access, resources, and publications, ISU’s Horticulture Extension is a resource that you cannot miss! Tune in to Iowa Public Radio on Fridays at noon, CST for Horticultural Fridays, where Iowa State’s Richard Jauron and others answer horticultural questions from callers!

Master Gardener Online

Online Master Gardener Overview

The Master Gardener and Home Horticulture Basic Training course is designed for anyone who is interested in learning more about the effective and sustainable management of their home horticultural landscape. There are no course prerequisites, although a basic understanding of plants is helpful.

In this course you will learn about the art and the science of caring for plants. We examine plant types (e.g. woody, herbaceous), garden types (e.g. container, vegetable), and elements that influence the growth and vigor of plants in the home garden (e.g. pathogens, soils, insects, management decisions).

We will also focus on the prevention and diagnosis of plant problems, as well as a least toxic approach to tolerating and/or managing plant problems in the home horticultural landscape.

What You’ll Cover in this Course

  • The basics of botany and entomology
  • Integrated pest management and pesticide safety
  • Soils, fertilizers and composting
  • Ornamental, herbaceous plants and woody plants
  • Vegetable, indoor and container gardening
  • Sustainable landscaping
  • Plant pathology

Option 1: Certified Master Gardener

Option 1 is specifically for Oregon residents. Non-Oregon residents, please see Option 2.

Would you like to become a Master Gardener Volunteer? In addition to the in-person trainings that are offered in local Extension Offices across Oregon, OSU offers an online option for completing the Master Gardener course material.

If you prefer to learn in-person, please contact your local Extension Office to find out what live training they offer.

If you prefer to learn online, or if the timing does not work to attend in-person, this instructor-led online training is an excellent alternative.


The online Master Gardener curriculum includes:

  • Recorded lectures on a variety of required topics
  • Additional lectures for optional specialized knowledge
  • Lively forum assignments and discussions with other students
  • Weekly quizzes to help you retain information
  • Extensive additional resources to help ensure your long-term success

To become a certified Master Gardener and receive a badge, you will need to complete the course material (online, or in-person), pass the final exam, and complete 40 to 70 hours (varies by county) of an on-site volunteer practicum under the guidance of your local Extension Office.

The volunteer practicum provides an opportunity to apply the concepts you learn in the classroom training, so that you can help others learn how to meet their sustainable gardening goals.

After the first year of certification, Master Gardener volunteers must complete volunteer and continuing education requirements to maintain certification.

Option 2: Certificate of Home Horticulture

You will receive the same training from Option 1 (above). This is ideal if you live outside of Oregon or you’re not able to complete the volunteer hours.

Upon successful completion of the online course, you will receive a Certificate of Home Horticulture.

Master Gardener Short Course Option

If you do not need or desire the full certificate, you might be interested in the on-demand Master Gardener Short Course Series, which pulls from sections of the Master Gardener Online program.

Certified Gardener Program
From CSU Extension

Grow your abilities with the Certified Gardener program

Are you a green thumb? Happiest while knee-deep in dirt? Enjoy planting and watching things grow? Based on the Colorado Master GardenerSM curriculum, the Certified Gardener Program is your opportunity to learn the latest gardening techniques and become an authority for sharing your gardening know-how.

Start learning today. No application required.

Register Now

Take online gardening classes anytime, anywhere

While the program is based on content similar to a traditional master gardener program, online courses give you more flexibility to learn only what you want to learn, on your own schedule. No matter if you are a backyard gardener, interested in learning more about landscaping, pruning, and home composting, or are a green industry professional, these online gardening classes can be tailored to help you meet your goals.

By taking this program, you will be able to:

  • Provide knowledge-based information to help gardeners protect and enhance their home landscape.
  • Use gardening therapy as a tool to develop individuals, strengthen families, and build communities.
  • Share ideas and build relationships with other students throughout the country in an online learning community.
  • Illustrate your expertise and competencies through the use of digital badges.

Digital badges illustrate expertise

The Certified Gardener Program from CSU Extension is one of the first programs at Colorado State University to award digital badges upon completion of noncredit courses. Once you earn them, you can share badges on your resume, website, e-portfolio, and on social media to illustrate for others the skills you have learned.

Learn more about digital badges, how they work, and what programs CSU currently offers.


Growing community through gardening

Earth scattering questions haunt people of the gardening kind. Is quack grass related to duck weed? Where do seeds for seedless watermelons come from? How do you debark a dogwood tree? If you are haunted by “a need to know” and a desire to share your newly found knowledge with anyone who will listen then University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteer program may be for you.

You don’t have to be a gardening expert to become a Master Gardener. All you need is an interest in gardening, some time to volunteer in the community, and a desire to share your knowledgewith others. The program is more about connections… connecting people with other gardeners, with their community, and with reliable resources for information. Once connections are forged, it’s time to get sowing and growing in our many meaningfulcommunity projects.

We all know no one ever really “masters” gardening. Together we are constantly learning. That’s what makes it fun. The Master Gardener program emphasizes practical gardening experience teamed with research-based information from University of Illinois Extension. We help people put knowledge to work as we share information about sustainable garden and landscape management practices, aesthetically pleasing and recuperative environments, and healthy food production.

Ready to start your gardening adventure?

For the full Master Gardener experience, we recommend face-to-face training at your local University of Illinois Extension office. Check out this website for the office nearest you: Just can’t fit face-to-face training into your schedule? No problem. Online training is an excellent option for Illinois residents. To become a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener and before you can register for online training you must contact your local University of Illinois Extension office to be accepted into the local program.

How to Become a Master Gardener

Written materials (news releases, newsletters, fact sheets, etc.) prepared by a Penn State Extension Master Gardener must be reviewed and approved by supervising Extension staff prior to release or publication.

X. MG Acceptable/Non-Acceptable Volunteer Activities

There must be an educational purpose and/or teaching component to all approved activities. Examples of ACCEPTABLE Penn State Extension Master Gardener activities are:

  • Answer consumer/home gardener’s telephone and email inquiries and assist Extension office visitors with plant and insect samples for identification or diagnosis, and give general pesticide recommendations (Garden Hotline).
  • Assist with Extension educational programming, such as Poison Prevention programs, talks for local organizations, Extension-sponsored workshops, exhibits, displays, etc.
  • Write research-based gardening and horticultural information for fact sheets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, etc.
  • Design or assist with establishing and maintaining educational demonstration gardens, such as community, healing, school, pollinator, and Extension office gardens.
  • Develop or assist with community-based environmental stewardship projects.
  • Assist teachers, 4-H volunteers and youth, and/or children with gardening education projects.
  • Conduct/teach horticultural related clinics, pruning, or other demonstrations, at Extension offices, local libraries, farmers markets, government centers, fairs, expos, garden clubs, civic groups, community events, flower shows, etc.
  • Serve as neighborhood “plant expert” in own community by answering home gardening questions, diagnosing plant problems, and/or instructing neighbors on proper care of lawn, landscape, garden, or houseplants.
  • Teach Master Gardener training sessions.
  • Demonstrate safe use of pesticide sprayers and power garden equipment, including tractors, tillers, mowers, shredders, and/or chippers.
  • Operate tractors, tillers, mowers, shredders, or chippers; use other equipment such as hand pruners, loppers, hand saws, shovels, hoes, trowels, and sharp knives while doing MG activity.
  • Serve on municipal street tree/shade tree committee.
  • Create or prepare visuals/graphics, such as posters, flyers, program announcements, table top displays for horticultural programs and/or publications.
  • Host, produce, or appear as guest on radio/ TV and/or use station’s radio/ TV equipment.
  • Photograph Extension/MG events.
  • Solicit donations and/or sponsorships to benefit the Master Gardener program.
  • Haul materials such as wood, pallets, and plants in his/her own vehicle for Extension projects.
  • Assist with community composting projects such as building compost bins for use in educational demonstrations.
  • Build bird/bat boxes, raised beds/gardens, or teach others how to build each.
  • Provide assistance to horticultural therapy programs for emotionally/physically/mentally disabled persons, nursing homes, hospitals, state/county prisons, youth detention centers.
  • Teach 4-H school enrichment for plant science only, teach plant science at 4-H camp, serve as a 4-H leader for plant science only, serve as 4-H judging team coach for plant science only, provide programs related to horticulture for 4-H leaders.
  • Chaperone 4-H field trips for plant science only.
  • Judge horticultural projects for 4-H, school or fair projects, community fairs, flower shows, etc.
  • Organize plant swaps.
  • Organize and/or lead educational bus trips/tours and garden tours related to horticulture.
  • Open his/her garden to the public for educational tours/demonstration.
  • Assist with planting and maintaining variety trails at experimental farms.
  • Assist with data collection, testing, and evaluating new varieties of vegetable, turf, ornamentals, and/or flowers for research projects.
  • Assist with or organize horticultural files in Extension office.
  • Coordinate Master Gardener activities in the county.
  • Serve on Extension Board.
  • Serve on Extension Advisory committees.
  • Serve as liaison between the Extension office and municipal officials.
  • Serve on state/regional/national Master Gardener committee(s).
  • May hold fundraisers approved by supervising Extension staff.
  • Conduct other activities as determined by local needs and the prior approval of supervising Extension staff.

The following activities are NOT ACCEPTABLE for Master Gardener volunteer service:

  • Perform pesticide application, including using Round-up or Preen on gardens used by the public.
  • Develop and deliver training for garden center employees, ground manager, and nursery personnel, unless approved by Extension.
  • Teach pruning to municipal tree trimmer (arborist).
  • Design gardens/landscapes for schools or communities that are non-educational.
  • Maintenance of garden for schools, civic groups, communities.
  • Maintenance of public gardens/arboreta, municipal parks, state/national parks
  • Organize community garden club.
  • Establish and manage a farmers market.
  • Grow or harvest crops for distribution to food bank/soup kitchen (except food from educational project).
  • Glean fields/orchards for distribution to food bank.
  • Clean up litter along the highway, at parks, or playgrounds.
  • Recycling of cans and bottles, newspapers, plastic nursery pots.
  • Serve as a 4-H leader, judge, and chaperone for activities not related to horticulture.
  • Serve on Friends of 4-H, 4-H Curriculum Development committee.
  • Operate chain saws while performing Master Gardener activity.
  • Teach or make recommendations about the use of medicinal herbs.

All activities should be approved by the county Master Gardener Coordinator.

XI. Master Gardener Status

Titles Used in the Penn State Extension Master Gardener program

  • Master Gardener Trainee – through completion of basic training.
  • Master Gardener Apprentice – from completion of basic training through completion of initial volunteer service.
  • Certified Master Gardener – active in the program and maintaining certification each year.
  • Inactive Master Gardener – see guidelines below.
  • Master Gardener Emeritus – Status is to be bestowed to a Master Gardener who has served with distinction and retired with 1500 hours and 10 or more years of exemplary service; title with certificate awarded after nomination or recommendation and acceptance by supervising Master Gardener Coordinator. Emeritus members are exempt from the annual service, education, and attendance requirements. They are entitled to attend monthly meetings, scheduled events, and tours. They may not vote, serve on committees, or hold elected offices. An Emeritus member cannot be returned to active status. Emeritus status may be bestowed posthumously.
  • Honorary Master Gardener or Master Gardener Friend – may be granted to an individual who is not a Master Gardener for outstanding service to the program.

Inactive Status Guidelines

  • Inactive status may be requested by a Master Gardener who is unable to commit to an additional twenty (20) hours volunteer service plus ten (10) hours of continuing education at present, but would like the opportunity to recertify in the future.
  • The request must be made in writing on the Inactive Status Request Form to the county Master Gardener Coordinator or supervising Extension staff.
  • Approval is at the discretion of the Master Gardener Coordinator.
  • A Master Gardener requesting inactive status must be in good standing, having completed the original commitment of training, exam, and volunteer service and having maintained certification in subsequent years up to the time of requesting inactive status.
  • An inactive Master Gardener must attend ten (10) hours of acceptable continuing education for each year of inactive status. (See Section VIII for examples of continuing education, CE.)
  • An inactive Master Gardener may recertify within three (3) years as long as the above criteria are met.
  • An individual on inactive status for more than three (3) years is required to retake the basic Master Gardener training. A fee for tuition may be assessed to cover the basic training costs.

Out-of-State Transfers

A Master Gardener who is certified and in good standing in another state may be admitted to a Penn State Extension Master Gardener program at the discretion of supervising Master Gardener Coordinator and by meeting the following criteria:

  • Acquire or be provided with a current Penn State Extension Master Gardener training manual. A fee for program materials may be assessed.
  • Acquire or be provided with a Penn State Extension Master Gardener name badge. A fee for materials may be assessed.
  • Score a minimum of 80% on an open book final exam administered by Penn State Cooperative Extension.
  • Meet the requirements for annual certification listed in Section VII.

County Transfers

A certified Penn State Extension Master Gardener in good standing in one county may transfer to another county within Pennsylvania at the discretion of supervising Master Gardener Coordinator in both counties. Written notice by the Master Gardener Coordinator must be provided stating the Master Gardener that requests the transfer is certified and in good standing.

XII. Financial and Liability Information


To cover the cost of the training manual and supplies, a non-refundable fee determined by the county program is charged. Training may be via Adobe Connect or face-to-face as determined by each county program. The fee for the Adobe Connect state-wide training will be determined by the State Coordinator. The fee for face-to-face county specific training will be determined by the county program. Individual counties may charge additional fees to cover meeting room rental, travel expenses for instructors, or other costs. These additional fees are itemized and kept to a minimum. Upon an individual’s acceptance into the Master Gardener program, this fee is paid to the local county Extension office or to the Master Gardener program as per county policy.

Cooperative Extension programs are open to all regardless of their ability to pay. Provisions must be made to reduce or waive fees when an individual is unable to pay.

Liability Insurance

Penn State Extension Master Gardener volunteers are insured under the P.W. Wood & Son, Inc. general liability insurance policy. Coverage applies only to individual volunteers while performing volunteer activities for Penn State Cooperative Extension. The coverage does not extend to other organizations or groups with which a Master Gardener volunteer is working. A volunteer must not sign contracts or leases assuming liability responsibility on behalf of other organizations or groups. All contracts or “Facilities Use” agreements that require volunteer signature must be reviewed by the Woods office prior to signing. Contract submission must follow approved protocols and appropriate paperwork as identified by Penn State Cooperative Extension policy.

Each year, county Extension offices are asked to identify the number of volunteers to be covered and the appropriate premium charge is applied. P.W. Wood does not request volunteer names, as they understand volunteers are not static and move off and on active status throughout the policy year.

Speaking Engagements

When a Penn State Extension Master Gardener speaks before a group on a horticultural topic, it is permissible for him or her to accept reimbursement for expenses and/or gift donations to the county Master Gardener fund. However, a Master Gardener is not allowed to seek personal paid speaking engagements while participating in an approved Extension function and while using the Penn State Extension Master Gardener title.

In all cases, the county Extension office policy on speaking engagement fees must be honored, provided it complies with the guidelines described above. When a Master Gardener travels outside of his or her home base county for a speaking engagement, it is allowable to request reimbursement for travel expenses from the county Extension office requesting the Master Gardener’s services.

All reimbursements and gifts must be deposited directly into the Master Gardener’s home base county Penn State Cooperative Extension (PSCE) Program account. Checks must be made payable to “PSCE ____________ County,” “PSCE Program Fund,” or other appropriate PSCE account. Checks must be turned over to the office bookkeeper in a timely fashion for deposit into the county Extension office program account.

Clearance for Work with Youth and Other At-Risk Populations

A Penn State Extension Master Gardener must provide a safe environment by not harming youth or adults in any way, whether through discrimination, sexual harassment, physical force, verbal or mental abuse, neglect, or other harmful action. A Penn State Extension Master Gardener must commit no illegal or abusive act. At-risk populations include senior and disabled individuals.

  • Only Master Gardeners working with youth in a Penn State Extension sponsored program are required to obtain background clearances and participate in mandated reporter training. In this situation, where the Master Gardener is working directly with children in small groups, a background check is required.
  • When Master Gardeners are sponsoring and presenting youth programs, two or more “authorized” adults with background clearances and mandated reporter training must be in attendance.
  • Master Gardeners who are called upon as a presenter for a youth program which is sponsored by a school, scout group, church program, etc., no background clearances or mandated reporter training is required.
  • When youth attend a Master Gardener program in the company of an adult, that adult is responsible for the children. No background clearances or mandated reporter training is required.
  • No background clearances or mandated reporter training is required for the Poison Prevention Program.
  • Master Gardeners who are not working with or plan to work with youth, do not need to have background clearances or mandated reporter training.
  • A Master Gardener desiring to work in conjunction with 4-H programming will fall under 4-H guidelines for volunteer screening.
  • The cost of volunteer background clearances will be covered by county Master Gardener program funds or individual Master Gardeners.


Before completing the Master Gardener application, contact the county Extension office in your area for an updated schedule of classes. Basic training for Master Gardeners is not offered annually in every county. Send the completed application to the county where you reside.

Master Gardener Application Form (PDF)

The class does cost money. In Texas, it costs $175. The cost may vary in other states, but should be close to that amount.

Exit Test

At the conclusion of the class, students are given an exit test over the material that they have learned in the class. Different counties have different standards for passing the exit test, so you will have to consult your county for the passing grade for the test.

Certification Process

Students that successfully complete the class and exit test are considered interns before they become certified.

Intern Hours

Interns have one year to give 50 hours of volunteer service to the Extension agency to become certified as master gardeners. Volunteer hours are accrued by answering consumer calls for horticulture information, participating in committees planning and executing educational programs for the community, and such things as garden tours. Interns usually have ample opportunities to acquire their 50 hours of volunteer time.

Maintaining Certification

Once an intern has given 50 hours of volunteer time, they are certified as master gardeners. The state standards mandate a master gardener must give at least 12 hours of volunteer time a year and attend at least six hours of continuing education training a year to remain certified. Individual counties may have higher requirements for volunteer hours and continuing education hours. Most counties charge a membership fee that ranges from $2 to $25 a year, depending on the organization.

Being a Master Gardener

Being a master gardener is a rewarding position. You have the opportunity to learn a great deal about horticulture and to help educate others in that field. If you enjoy gardening and dealing with people, being a master gardener may be for you.

Become a Master Gardener

Training Options

Option 1: Master Gardener Volunteer Educator Training – $495

(Discount price $445 registering before January 11, 2020)

Learn about sustainable gardening in a fun, friendly environment and help your community grow! Take a 53-hour training and contribute 50 hours of volunteer service toward OSU’s horticulture education outreach program. The MG Volunteer Educator Training is the equivalent of a college-level horticulture course focused on sustainable gardening. It is coupled with a volunteer internship in which you apply your learning toward approved volunteer activities to help educate the public using research-based information.

This MG program is an investment in your potential to serve as a garden-based educator in the community. Join us to build your foundation as a community educator with OSU! The MG program requires a season-long commitment (at least 103 hours total from January-September) to complete both the training and volunteer components of this community-based education program.

Register for Option 1:

Option 2: Certificate of Home Horticulture – $695

Receive an OSU Extension Service Certificate of Home Horticulture upon successful completion of the course, which includes in-person classes, online content, hands-on workshops, gardening seminars, and final exam.

Learn the research-based content of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program without the volunteer commitment required to become a Master Gardener Volunteer Educator.

Participants who do not wish to become a Master Gardener Volunteer Educator (see Option 1 above) can still take the Master Gardener curriculum for their own personal and professional development. The MG curriculum is the equivalent of a college-level horticulture course focused on sustainable gardening. Have fun and connect with other garden enthusiasts.

Register for Option 2:

Option 3: Reduced-fee slots to become a Master Gardener Volunteer Educator

We are able to provide a limited number of reduced-fee positions in the Master Gardener Volunteer Educator Training as part of our fellowship program. You will receive the same educational and volunteer opportunities as Option 1 above.

3A. Fellowship (You pay $75 for materials): Available to participants if your income is below the 2018 Federal Poverty Guidelines based on the number of people in your household.

3B. Scholarship (You pay $75 for materials + $175 for program tuition = $250): Available to participants that don’t meet the Federal Poverty Guidelines, but can’t afford the full cost of the Master Gardener training. We are looking for volunteers with special skills (bi-lingual, experience educating diverse audiences) for these reduced-fee slots. Payment plans are available if you pay by cash or check.

Here is the criteria for the Fellowship (You pay $75) positions:

  1. You want training and mentoring to increase your knowledge and skills to serve as a garden-based educator.
  2. You can commit to at least 100 hours of time (50 hours training and 50 hours as a volunteer educator in the community) from January – September 2020 for your initial training experience.

Application deadline for Option 3 is closed.

By mid-December 2019, we will inform applicants for Option 3 if they are accepted into the Master Gardener program.

At that time we will provide a link to register for the class and make a payment.

Can’t make it work in 2020?

If you want to be contacted when registration opens for our 2021 Master Gardener training please sign up for our contact list.

Who are Master Gardeners?

They are passionate about serving their communities and sharing gardening best practices. Master Gardeners are individuals who have taken the Master Gardener training and share their time and expertise as volunteers in community gardens, city beautification projects, and farmers markets to name a few.

Important Dates

Before August 1, 2020 (start dates vary by county)

Steps to Become a Master Gardener

  1. Apply online by August 1, 2020 to attend the training in a location near you
  2. Be selected by your local Extension office for the Master Gardener training
    • Find out about the local program offered by an ISU Extension & Outreach office near you
  3. Pay class fee ($195 at most locations); training manuals are included in the fee. Payment is made to the ISU Extension and Outreach county office.
  4. Submit and pass the background check
  5. Complete the Extension Master Gardener core training
    • 40 hours of plant education offered in the fall: August through November
    • Complete pre- and post-assessment to gage how much knowledge has been acquired
    • Courses are taught by Iowa State University faculty, local experts & ISU Extension and Outreach educators
    • Topics include: Vegetables, houseplants, compost, flowers, fruits, turf grass, landscape design, woody landscape plants, plant propagation, soils, wildlife management, integrated pest management, plant diseases and insects.
    • October 19, 2019 – The core training also includes a Saturday hands-on workshop at Iowa State University
  6. Volunteer in your community
    • Complete the 40 hour internship by December 31, 2020. Volunteer on projects and at events to teach plants in the community.
    • Not interested in volunteering? Register for the core course as a Pro-Hort trainee ($550 fee) and receive a certificate upon completion of the training.
  7. Stay involved
    • Master Gardeners can remain active members in following years by attending ten or more hours of continuing education and contributing 20 hours or more of volunteer community service.
    • Report your volunteer and continuing education hours online by December 31st of each year.

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