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Senior gardener volunteers help their neighbors understand and use research-based information and practices that can improve their quality of life by minimizing negative impact on the environment and natural resources. These volunteers strive to make scientific knowledge available to all. They inspire and encourage lifelong learning through further scientific exploration and discovery.

If you are interested in gardening and want to share that feeling with others, the University of Minnesota Extension Master Venture Program may be for you.

Who are the main garden volunteers?

The main gardeners come from all walks of life.

They share the best gardening practices that promote healthy landscapes, healthy food and a healthy lifestyle.

They complete a major course taught by faculty and extension teachers at the University of Minnesota.

By the end of the main course, they will be devoting their time to teaching research-based horticultural practices in their community.

Required dates and deadlines

January 1-December 31: Extension Master Gardener Program Year

October 1: Deadline to apply

In mid-November: Deadline to provide background check information and view the safety of minors online training

December 1 Deadline to enroll in Extension Master Gardener Course Course

Steps to becoming an Extraordinary Gardener

1. Apply for a major gardening training

  • Complete and submit the online application by October 1.
  • Contact the Volunteer Program Coordinator.
  • We’ll show you how to submit a background check online. All major gardening volunteers must have a background check every three years.
  • Once you receive a notification that your background check has been cleared, you can opt for the $ 255 Manual, $ 295 Manual for the main course. The fee includes background check and course and registration is until December 1st.

2. Complete the Master of Extension Master gardening course

  • 48-hour hours each year provide basic horticultural education.
  • The course is fully online for 2022. It starts in January and runs on its own in mid-May.
  • Extension faculty and faculty at the University of Minnesota teach weekly webinars with experts. Sessions will be recorded to watch.
  • All students must complete an online application to obtain a certificate. An active email address and secure internet access are required.

3. Share your knowledge

  • Volunteer 50 hours in gardening education and information projects and events during your first year.
  • Learn from an experienced Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.
  • Report your volunteer hours online by December 31st.
  • Individuals who have dropped out of practice are required to pay an additional $ 300 before meeting educational and volunteer requirements.

4. Respect!

At the end of your internship, you will begin the following calendar year as an active Minnesota Extension Master gardener in your community.

5. Get involved

To maintain your commitment to an active extension gardener, you will need at least 25 hours of volunteering and additional school hours during the year. Continuous school hours vary from 5 to 12 hours depending on your county.

For more information on becoming a major gardener volunteer and filling out an application, please visit https://extension.umn.edu/master-gardener/become-master-gardener

Until next time, a delightful garden!


The gardener is a great teacher. It actively teaches patience and caution; Teaches industry and savings; Above all, it teaches complete faith. – Gertrude Jekyll

Robin Trot is a horticulturist with the University of Minnesota Extension. Contact her at 320-762-3890, or at trot0053@umn.edu.

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