Master Gardener Program

Master Gardeners answering questions at the plant sale
Master Gardeners answering questions at the plant sale

The Master Gardener program started in 1978; it strives to teach volunteers about technical horticulture, the Extension Service, and sources of information at Oregon State University. It provides Master Gardeners with tools to become better gardeners, a network of fellow gardeners, and a means of service to others. Extension Agents enjoy watching Master Gardeners become more confident, outgoing and aware of the need for their knowledge.

In spite of budget constraints and reduced staffing, the Master Gardener program continues to grow. These enthusiastic volunteers serve an increasingly larger home gardening audience.

Who are Master Gardeners?

Master Gardeners are volunteers who are experienced gardeners, who receive horticultural training from Oregon State University Extension Specialists, agents and other Master Gardeners, and who want to share their gardening skill and training with others.

How can I become a Master Gardener?

Master Gardeners must be willing to spend one day each week for nine consecutive weeks during January, February and March for a total of 66 hours of classroom instruction. It is helpful if potential Master Gardeners have had some gardening experience. They must agree to return 66 hours in volunteering gardening information, public service, or remit $500 for the course.

Training Topics:

  • botany basics
  • soil management
  • plant nutrition
  • pest identification and control
  • diagnosis of plant problems
  • growing vegetables
  • lawns
  • fruit trees
    ...and more

Sound like your cup of tea? Complete the online interest form.

How much does it cost?

Each new Master Gardener who is accepted for training must pay $120 to cover the cost of the Master Gardener reference notebook, class materials, and classroom expenses.

How do I pay back the 66 hours?

A minimum or 46 hours is spent at the Extension office answering gardening questions. Additional time can be returned in such activities as staffing information booths and/or giving demonstrations at the Benton County Fair, the Spring Garden Festival, and the farmers markets. One might volunteer hours working in the demonstration garden located at the Benton County Fair and Expo Center, or lead a 4-H horticulture club, present windowsill gardening to second and third graders, or lead a gardening class at the Gearing Up for Gardening series. Other ways to pay back volunteer hours might be to provide gardening programs for service clubs, write newspaper articles, or tape radio spots.

How do I apply?

If you wish to be a Master Gardener, we are now accepting applications for the 2014 program. Download application AND Cover Letter

Or you can contact the Benton County Extension Office at 541-766-6750.

The class is not until next year, what can I do while I wait?

We encourage all interested participants to attend gardening workshops and events to increase their knowledge while waiting for the class to be offered each year.  Check out our gardening classes & events!

How long may I be a Master Gardener?

You may be a Master Gardener as long as you wish. A few have remained active since the first class was held in 1978. Others have remained active since their training. Many become members of Benton County Master Gardener Association. This association holds monthly meetings to become better acquainted with each other, to have fun, to gain additional knowledge, and to plan community and educational gardening activities.

What is required each year to recertify and stay an active Master Gardener?

Master Gardener certification is only valid for one year. After that each year, MGs must attend at least six hours of an educational class. Example are OMGA Mini-College, Insights into Gardening, or PNW classes. Additionally MGs must volunteer for at least ten outreach hours. This might include staffing plant clinics, working in the demo garden at an event, or teaching a class.

Online Master Gardener Training Course

Complete the Master Gardener Basic Training from the comfort of your own home. Find out more about the online Master Gardener program.

For information, contact:

Pami Opfer
Benton County Extension
4077 SW Research Way
Corvallis, OR 97333

Phone: 541-766-6750

Email: pamela.opfer@oregonstate.edu

Share this