NYS Master Gardener Program

NYS Master Gardener Program

Master Gardeners

What is the Master Gardener Program?

The Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to expand educational outreach throughout the community by providing home gardeners with research-based information.

The first Master Gardener program was started in Washington state in 1972. Forty-six states now have Master Gardener programs. For information on Master Gardener programs outside Tompkins County, visit the New York State Master Gardener Program website.

Who Becomes a Master Gardener?

Master Gardeners enjoy people and plants. They usually have no professional gardening or landscaping experience, only a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge, and sufficient free time to volunteer in Master Gardener activities.

Qualification for Trainees

Master Gardener trainees should have a basic knowledge of, or interest in, gardening; enthusiasm for acquiring and sharing horticultural knowledge and skills; good communications skills; and a willingness and free time to participate in volunteer educational activities.

Volunteers complete a brief written application, under go a background check as do all of our volunteers, and have a short interview with members of our horticulture staff. Priority for selection is given to Franklin County residents.

Master Gardener Training

Master Gardener training is scheduled for this spring on Thursdays beginning February 26, 2015. The 12 week program will conclude in May. Trainees receive instruction from experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension and elsewhere on a broad spectrum of subjects applicable to home gardening, such as plant nutrition, soils, vegetable and fruit culture, trees, shrubs and lawns, diseases and insects that affect plants, pruning, and much more. After this instruction, trainees complete an examination and are certified as Master Gardeners. Advanced instruction is offered, and special seminars and refresher workshops are held so that Master Gardeners can stay current on gardening topics and keep their knowledge up-to-date.

You can learn more about the topics that are covered in the training by visiting the NY State Master Gardener Volunteer Program pages on the Cornell University website.

Volunteer Commitment

Each Master Gardener trainee commits to "give back" an additional 60 hours of service over a one year time period following certification for a total of 120 hours altogether (training + volunteer time). After that, you can be as involved with the program as you would like to be. Some Master Gardeners have volunteered for many years and enjoy the comaraderie of fellow gardeners, monthly meetings, holiday gatherings, and group field trips to visit beautiful and unique gardens in our region that also are part of the program.

To fulfill their volunteer time commitment, Master Gardeners have in the past worked in the office to test soil samples, maintained files of gardening information, answered gardening questions through our "Grow Line", taught gardening classes, organized and run the annual Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sales, written articles for publication, spoken or demonstrated to groups, and worked in the Education Center's gardens. New program initiatives also are welcomed!

Current Master Gardener Program

Franklin County now has approximately 10 active Master Gardener volunteers who do a number of different things in the county. It is a very popular program and we normally have more than enough applicants to fill the training program every two years.

What are Master Gardeners?

Master Gardener volunteers are involved in many activities. Here are some of them:

  • Testing soil samples brought into the Cooperative Extension office
  • Maintaining Cooperative Extension gardening information files
  • Answering gardening questions phoned or e-mailed into the Cooperative Extension office
  • Arranging public workshops on wreathmaking, gardening with perennials and other topics
  • Organizing the annual Garden Fair and Plant Sale
  • Writing articles for publication
  • Designing the landscape for the Cooperative Extension Center
  • Staffing the GROWLINE, the horticultural hotline

For more information . . .

Learn more about the NY State Master Gardener Volunteer Program by visiting their pages on the Cornell University website!

Last updated April 9, 2015