Get Started

So you want to be a Master Gardener Volunteer? Here are the basics of what it takes:

Step 1: Find a Program Near You

It is strongly recommended you apply for training in the county you live in order for you to more easily participate in approved volunteer projects required as part of Master Gardener Training. Acceptance into a program is at the discretion of the county educator and passing a criminal background check.

Find a Program Near You

Step 2: Apply to a Program

Obtain an application package from the hosting county.

  • Complete and return all forms per instructions by stated deadlines. Incomplete information may delay or prevent your acceptance into the program.
  • Application packages should include, but are not limited to:
    • General application form
    • UW-Extension Volunteer Behavior Expectations form
    • Refund policy

You’ll also need to attend a mandatory orientation (or interview).

  • MG training is a commitment. We want you to fully understand the program before you jump in. This step is to provide details of the program and to answer any questions you may have regarding training and volunteer requirements.
  • If you don’t have 3-5 hours per week for the dozen or so classes, or the ability to put in 2-4 hours per month of volunteering, then maybe now isn’t the best time for you to apply to the program.

List of Counties Tentatively Offering Training

Step 3: Learn Stuff

MGVs study insect life cycles.

MGVs study insect life cycles as part of Level 1 training.

Once accepted into program, complete the Level 1 training.

  • Each county does training a little bit differently. Everyone gets a training manual (you should read the appropriate parts before each class). There are online modules (watch the lectures, do the online quizzes, and surf for more information), and then come to class prepared for discussion, activities or guest lecturers. You’re going to get introduced to a lot of information!
  • Mandated reporter training of child abuse and neglect is a required part of training. You may not plan to volunteer alongside kids, but as a representative of UW-Extension we need you prepared to handle any situation.
  • Pass the final exam with a score of 70% or better.

Step 4: Do Stuff

MGVs work alongside Extension educators to answer questions at the annual Garden Expo.

MGVs work alongside Extension educators to answer questions at the annual Garden Expo.

Apply what you learn in class to the approved community projects in your county.

  • You’re required to complete a minimum of 24 hours of volunteer service in one or more of your locally approved projects.
  • Work alongside veteran Master Gardener Volunteers to learn from them.
  • Hone your budding gardening skills by planting, pruning, maintaining, and working on community projects.
  • Share your new-found knowledge by instructing and helping others.

Step 5: Tell Us About It

Report your hours to your county by the specified deadline and get your Master Gardener certification.

  • Every Master Gardener Volunteer is doing something awesome. When viewed cumulatively, that turns into big impacts and community change – all via gardening!

Impacts of Master Gardeners