I hope you find the Master Gardener articles interesting and helpful. You may be wondering, what is a Master Gardener, how can I become a Master Gardener and who the local Master Gardeners are. I will explain those three questions in the next two articles.


I hope you find the Master Gardener articles interesting and helpful. You may be wondering, what is a Master Gardener, how can I become a Master Gardener and who the local Master Gardeners are. I will explain those three questions in the next two articles.

What is the University of Minnesota Master Gardener Program?

The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener™ program is an internationally recognized volunteer program. It exists in all 50 states, in Canada and in the United Kingdom. Nationally, there are nearly 100,000 Master Gardener volunteers from all walks of life. In Minnesota, the Master Gardener program is coordinated by the University of Minnesota Extension and has strong ties to the research and outreach of the Department of Horticultural Science. The Master Gardener program began in 1972, at Washington State University. The University of Minnesota program started in 1977, with the first class of 25 people.

The activities of the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners, benefit schools, communities, youth programs, environmental education programs, farmers markets and much more. Master Gardeners are required to volunteer 50 hours the first year as interns and 25 hours annually thereafter as certified active Master Gardeners. Active volunteers are also asked to participate in continuing education of 5-12 hours per year, depending on the county in which they volunteer. Some activities of Master Gardeners include:

•teaching classes and workshops
•answering phone and e-mail inquiries concerning home horticulture
•teaching youth and adults and judging horticulture projects
•writing articles on horticulture topics
•speaking to various groups on yard and gardening topics
•holding plant clinics at garden centers and farmers markets
•representing the program at county and state fair exhibits
•assisting with county Horticulture Days and county fairs
•teaching and demonstrating horticulture techniques in community and school gardens
Minnesota Master Gardeners
by the numbers
•2,269 active volunteers
•81 of 87 Minnesota counties with Master Gardeners
•128,188 hours volunteered last year
•$2.6 million - the annual value of this volunteer time per the federal rate for charitable giving of time
•30,100 continuing education hours completed by volunteers last year to remain up-to-date on current horticulture topics and techniques.
Being a Master Gardener
It is more than pulling weeds
Master Gardeners do love digging in the soil, but you may not realize the scope of their involvement in the community.
Minnesota Master Gardeners:
•assist the University of Minnesota faculty with research projects and variety trials
•advise city officials on how to create community gardens
•process samples at diagnostic clinics
•partner with schools to teach students about composting and gardening
•lead horticultural therapy sessions for hospital patients
•empower people to grow their own food
•work with foresters to help limit the spread of emerald ash borer
•teach homeowners sustainable ways to manage yard waste
•improve the state’s water quality with shoreline plantings and rain gardens and much more.

Master Gardeners are paraprofessionals who are vital to the U of M Extension’s goal of getting research-based information to Minnesotans. In 2010, the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners gave more than 127,000 hours to their communities—a public value worth more than $2.6 million. These enthusiastic and highly-trained volunteers make Minnesota communities more sustainable, more beautiful, more knowledgeable and more fun!
And don’t worry — you’ll probably get to pull some weeds, too.