Becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer
Do you want to be a Master Gardener? Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I interested in learning about plant anatomy, physiology and care?
- Do I have the time to participate in an intensive training program?
- Do I believe in volunteering within my community?
- Do I have enough time to complete the required volunteer service?
If you answered yes to these questions, the Master Gardener program could be for you. Before applying to the program, prospective Master Gardeners attend a mandatory orientation session that provides a more complete overview of both the training and the subsequent Master Gardener volunteer responsibilities.
How are Master Gardeners trained?
Master Gardeners undertake a intensive training program that offers a practical course in plant science and horticulture. In Contra Costa, the Master Gardener Training Program is offered once a year in the fall and winter months, rotating between East, West and Central Contra Costa locations. This intensive course of study comprises over 100 hours of classroom and field training and covers the field of horticulture from basic botany to plant pathology. Topics include soil science, irrigation and water conservation, weeds, diseases, insects, integrated pest management, edible gardening (vegetables, fruits & nuts), turf, landscape trees and ornamentals, and more.
Attendance at all classes and satisfactory completion of written exams and other home study assignments are required to graduate and become a certified Master Gardener.
Who are the instructors?
Instructors include UC Cooperative Extension Advisors and Specialists, faculty from the University of California Berkeley and Davis campuses and from local community colleges, as well as local experts in certain fields.
What is a Master Gardener's commitment to the program?
A newly-certified Master Gardener is required to complete 50 hours of volunteer service to the Cooperative Extension and the community within one year of completing the training program. Projects range from staffing the free advice helpline to teaching the community about less toxic approaches to garden and home pest control.
To remain in the program, Master Gardeners must recertify annually by volunteering 25 hours and maintaining their expertise with 12 hours of continuing education. The desire and ability to fulfill the volunteer commitment is a major criterion in the selection of a potential Master Gardener.
Next Master Gardener Volunteer Training
The upcoming Contra Costa Master Gardener Volunteer Training Class will be held on Thursdays in Antioch, CA from October 3, 2013 to February 20, 2014. However, registration for mandatory orientation sessions is now closed. Please check back next spring for information on the 2014-15 class, or scroll down to request notification when orientation sessions are scheduled.