Master Gardener Program

Master Gardener Program

Extension Master Gardeners are trained volunteer educators. They work within their local communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training. As an educational outreach component of Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Master Gardener program brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities – Virginia Tech and Virginia State University – to the people of the commonwealth. All volunteers are trained and have at least 50 hours of horticultural classes and return at least 50 hours of volunteer community service through their local Extension office.

Volunteer involvement is one of the most important and unique aspects of Virginia Cooperative Extension. This is in keeping with Extension's philosophy that active citizen participation in planning and implementation insures program success. Volunteers are a valuable resource and an integral part of the education mission of Extension. 

The Master Gardener training was created by Extension to meet an enormous increase in requests from home gardeners for unbiased, research-based horticultural information. This increase was a result of the urban and transient nature of modern American life. 

Master Gardeners provide a resource for all Extension program areas and for professionals from many other agencies. They provide communities with locally identified programs, including answers to individual questions via hotlines and plant clinics; radio, newspaper, and computer links; educational programs to meet targeted needs; education for the preservation of historic landscapes; urban tree planting programs; and guidance in making the natural environment accessible to all residents regardless of disabilities, incomes, or where they live.

Mission: Sharing knowledge. Empowering Communities.

Vision: To be the Virginia Cooperative Extension volunteer organization extending horticulture and environmental outreach across the Commonwealth.

Core Values:

  • Respect - The environment, each other, and those we serve.
  • Accountability - Wise stewardship of resources. To our organization, our community, and each other.
  • Collaboration - Willing to work with a diverse group to reach a common goal. Actively seeking out partners.

The 50-hour (minimum) required training program provides research-based information on a variety of horticultural and environmental topics. Training sessions are offered annually. Pre-registration is required. Contact your local VCE office for more information.

Extension Master Gardener training involves a variety of topics, including:

  • Botany
  • Soils & fertilizer
  • Entomology (insects)
  • Propagation
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Turf
  • Woody plants
  • Herbaceous plants
  • Water quality
  • Pruning
  • Plant pathology (diseases)
  • Plant damage (diagnosis)
  • Pesticides
  • Landscape design

By completing the classroom instruction, you become a Master Gardener Intern. The title of VCE Master Gardener is granted after you complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service conducting horticultural education programs.

To complete annual re-certification you must:

  • Contribute at least 20 hours of volunteer service each year.
  • Participate in at least 8 hours of continuing education.