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Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Urban Mission Garden
Master Gardener's
Master Gardener plant sale
Community garden harvest

Master Gardener Volunteers

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. Master Gardeners assist with gardening projects in the community, teach classes and workshops, plant and maintain demonstration gardens , provide information and soil pH testing at events.

 The first Master Gardener program was started in Washington state in 1972. Forty-six states now have Master Gardener programs.

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, and have a short interview with members of our horticulture staff.  Priority for selection is given to Jefferson County residents.

Master Gardener Training

Master Gardener training is held every two to three years. Trainees receive training 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.  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.

Please call for information on when the next Master Gardener volunteer training will be offered, and to receive an application form.

Volunteer Commitment

Each Master Gardener trainee commits to "give back" an additional 50 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 satisfaction of helping their local communities and the camaraderie 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 maintain gardens at our Extension office, New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, and the Jefferson County Historical Society. They also give gardening talks, advise community members, and write gardening articles. New program initiatives also are welcomed!

Current Master Gardener Program

Jefferson County has had a Master Gardener program since 1993. Master Gardener Volunteers do a number of different activities in the county. It is a very popular program and we normally have more than enough applicants to fill the training program, which takes place every two to three years. We have over 40 active Master Gardeners.

For more information . . .

If you are interested in becoming a Jefferson County Master Gardener, please send your name, address, telephone number, and email address to the contact listed below.


Sue Gwise
Consumer Horticulture Educator & Master Gardener Coordinator
315-788-8450 ext. 243

Last updated October 28, 2021