Healthy plants, healthy people, and a healthy planet are at the top of University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program priorities. Master Gardener volunteers answer questions at farmers markets and county fairs, engage young people in hands-on learning, and act as trusted resources for community gardeners. Join more than 2,000 volunteers across the state who learn from U of M experts and share their knowledge in seven key areas:

  • Horticulture skills
  • Managing invasive species, conserving native species, and restoring habitats
  • Protecting native pollinators
  • Conserving water and minimizing runoff
  • Growing sustainable local food
  • Creating climate resilient landscapes
  • Assuring access to green space for all

What are the requirements to apply? Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, pass a personal background check and review a safety of minors training video. An active email address and reliable Internet access are also required. Individuals accepted into the program must complete an internship before becoming a Master Gardener volunteer.

What are the internship requirements? Interns are required to complete a 48-hour online and/or in-person training program, known as the “Core Course.” The cost of the Core Course is $320. Interns must also complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer work the first year

What do Master Gardeners volunteers need to do to maintain active status? After receiving certification as a Master Gardener, volunteers must contribute a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer work each year and 5-12 hours (depending on the local program) of continuing education.

How and when should I apply for the program? Contact your local Extension Office and request an application. Applications are due October 1.

  • Accepted interns must submit and pass a Personal Background Check before the Core Course
  • Registration deadline of December 1.
  • The Core Course begins in January.

How long does the online training last, and what do I need to do to pass the course? The Core Course typically lasts from January to May. Interns must complete the online quizzes for each topic module and achieve an overall passing score of 80%.

What are the topics covered during the Core Course? Topics include soils, entomology, botany, diagnostics, trees & shrubs, herbaceous plants, lawn care, plant pathology, weeds, wildlife, integrated pest management (IPM), vegetables, and fruits

What will happen if I don’t complete all the internship requirements? Interns who do not fulfill the educational and volunteering requirements will be required to pay an additional $300.

Until next time, happy gardening!