A love of gardening, a search for knowledge and a desire to share that knowledge with others is central to why people join the Master Gardener program. They remain Master Gardeners to enjoy the friendship of others who share their interests, to gain and share research-based horticultural knowledge and to give back to the community through their volunteer commitment.
If combining your passion for people and plants sounds appealing, you may be a good Master Gardener candidate. A formal education in horticulture isn’t necessary–we will provide the training and resources to help you teach others. There are five steps to becoming a Master Gardener – each step is described in more detail below.
To become a University of Minnesota Master Gardener, you must first apply and be accepted into the program. Applications are accepted until October 1st. If interested, apply here. A letter with additional information will be mailed later in the fall to those who submitted applications.
You agree to volunteer service Crow Wing County in exchange for training from the University of Minnesota. You also agree to participate in Master Gardener monthly meetings, where you receive continuing education and learn about new projects and other volunteer opportunities.
Training is held at the beginning of each year, January through May. Master Gardeners attend a 49-hour class at the University of Minnesota known as the “Core Course” or Horticulture 1003 if taken for U of M credit. The course is taught by Extension faculty, and a textbook and mini-reference library are provided to each participant. For more information about the Core Course training, including times, locations, fees, and specific course content, visit the Minnesota Master Gardener page.
Following completion of Core Course Training, Master Gardener interns are required to do a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer work during their internship year (which ends December 31). We make an effort to ensure our new interns are placed with more seasoned volunteers, a mentor is assigned to each new intern. So whether you volunteer at an “Ask a Master Gardener” event or any other event, you’ll be with knowledgeable, helpful people who will make sure you’re not on your own. You’ll have fun–and you will learn a lot!
You’ll receive a certificate and name badge designating you as a Master Gardener once you have completed the Core Course and fulfilled the internship requirements.
Once certified, Master Gardeners must volunteer a minimum of 25 hours and receive at least 5 hours of approved continuing education each year in order to maintain their certification.
After you are certified, you are eligible to attend other training programs and workshops. These courses offer more technical information. Advanced training opportunities include:
- Tree Care Advisor
- Pesticide Applicator
- Plant Healthcare Advisors
- Household Insects
- Shoreline Restoration
- Special one-time classes