Become a Master Gardener

Join us as a Master Gardener Volunteer!

A love of gardening, a passion for knowledge and a desire to share that knowledge with others are central to why people join the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteer program. They remain Master Gardeners to enjoy the friendship of others who share their interests in gaining and  sharing research-based horticultural knowledge and giving back to the community through their volunteer commitment.

If combining your passion for people and plants sounds appealing, you may be a good Master Gardener volunteer candidate. A formal education in horticulture is not necessary—we will provide the training and resources to help you teach others. There are five steps to becoming a Master Gardener. Each step is described in more detail below.

Flower BoxApplication

To become a University of Minnesota Master Gardener in Washington County, you must first apply and be accepted into the program. The application process starts early, and we begin sending out applications in September. The deadline for submitting a completed application is October 1. To request an application packet, please send an email with your contact information to wcmg@umn.edu.

After you have completed your application, email it to wcmg@umn.edu or mail a hard copy to the address on the application.

Selected applicants will be interviewed. Following the interview, selected candidates are accepted into the program and eligible for the next steps—commitment and training.

Commitment

You agree to volunteer service in exchange for training from the University of Minnesota. You also agree to participate in Master Gardener volunteer meetings in your county, where you receive continuing education and learn about new projects and other volunteer opportunities.

Training

Training is held each year in January and February at the U of M Landscape Arboretum, through online classes, or a combination of both. This 48-hour class is known as the “Core Course” or Horticulture 1003 if taken for U of M credit. The course is taught by University of Minnesota Extension faculty, and a textbook and mini-reference library are provided to each participant. For more information about the Core Course training, including times, locations, fees, and specific course content, visit the University’s Minnesota Master Gardener page.

Internship

Following completion of Core Course training, Master Gardener interns are required to perform 50 hours of volunteer work and 8 hours of continuing education during their internship year (which ends December 31). We make an effort to ensure that our new interns are placed with other, more seasoned volunteers and we assign a mentor to each new intern. So whether you volunteer at an “Ask a Master Gardener” event, Diagnostic Clinic or another event, you’ll be with knowledgeable, helpful people who will make sure you’re not on your own. You’ll have fun and you will learn a lot!

Certification

Once you have completed the Core Course and fulfilled your internship requirements, you will receive a certificate and Master Gardener volunteer name badge.

Remaining Certified

Once certified, Master Gardeners in Washington County must volunteer a minimum of 25 hours and receive at least 12 hours of approved continuing education each year in order to maintain their certification.

Advanced Training

After you are certified, you are eligible to attend other training programs and workshops. These courses offer more technical information. Advanced training opportunities include:

  • Tree Care Advisor
  • Pesticide Applicator
  • Plant Healthcare Advisor
  • Household Insects
  • Shoreline Restoration
  • Woodland Advisor
  • Home Landscape Design
  • Special One-Time Classes