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About the Extension Master Gardener Program

Who are Extension Master Gardeners?

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.

Group of adults sit in folding chairs behind table at event
Newport News Extension Master Gardeners help the public at an educational information desk.

Since 1979, Virginia Extension Master Gardeners have served communities throughout the Commonwealth by providing unbiased and research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

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.

Virginia Extension Master Gardeners are volunteer educators. 

Extension Master Gardeners do not provide free gardening labor--they work to provide research-based horticultural information to Virginia home gardeners.

Want to learn about the projects Master Gardeners do? Check out these spotlighted projects:

  • Strasburg Community Garden Project - Extension Master Gardeners from the Northern Shenandoah unit worked with community stakeholders to help create a community garden in a food desert.
  • Historical Trees & Gardens of Virginia Symposium - Extension Master Gardeners of the Central Rappahannock hosted an educational event highlighting Virginia's historic trees and gardens 
  • Food For Thought - Master Gardeners and Master Food Volunteers work to help middle school students grow and prepare healthy foods
headshot of man wearing a suit smiling against a blue professional background

Ed Olsen

Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Specialist


M.S. Ed., Virginia Tech, 2010

B.S. Horticulture, Virginia Tech, 1990


State Coordinator

devon johnson headshot

Devon Johnson

Communications Project Coordinator

Contact: dvj@vt.ed

M.A. Virginia Tech, 2017

M.A. Virginia Tech, 2017

B.A. Virginia Tech, 2014