Become a Master Gardener Volunteer

Who can be a Master Gardener Volunteer?

YOU CAN! We’re looking for volunteers with a variety of gardening experiences, good communication skills and who like to share knowledge with others.  Master Gardener volunteers are committed to providing the highest quality, research-based horticultural information and educational activities that enhance our community’s environment and quality of life.

Why should you be a Master Gardener Volunteer?

Do you have a love of gardening? Do you know more about Swiss Chard than is appropriate for the average individual to know? Or do you enjoy teaching others about a subject that is important to you?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the Extension Master Gardener Program — Hennepin County, may be for you! Master Gardener Volunteers take their knowledge and love of horticulture into the Hennepin County Community and share it with others. Volunteers learn while they are volunteering; they also learn by attending required continuing education classes offered by the University of Minnesota, MN Landscape Arboretum and Minnesota Horticultural Society. The Master Gardener Program is the perfect way to volunteer your time and talents AND learn more at the same time.

How do I become a Master Gardener Volunteer?

Applications are usually accepted between July 15 and October 1!  To be placed on the notification list for when applications will be accepted again, just send an e-mail to

Application Process and dates you should know for 2017:

  • October 1: Application Deadline Submit completed application and horticultural dilemmas by e- mail to OR to the following address by Sunday, October 1, 2017: Extension Master Gardener Program– Hennepin County, Attn: Terry Straub, 479 Prairie Center Drive, Eden Prairie, MN, 55344. Applications will be reviewed by a team of experienced Master Gardener Volunteers.  If selected to be interviewed, applicants will be asked to provide 3 references.
  • October 16-28: Interview Dates. Selected applicants will be interviewed by a panel of experienced Master Gardener Volunteers.
  • November 3: Accepted applicants will be notified by Friday, November 3.
  • November 14 OR 16: Meet Your Mentor Meeting. Extension Master Gardener Program — Hennepin County Interns are required to attend a 90 minute meeting with their Mentor.
  • January 9 OR 11, 2018: Intern Orientation Sessions. Attend an intern orientation session on January 9 or 11, 2018.
  • January 12 through February 9: 2018 Core Course (MN Landscape Arboretum.) All Master Gardener Interns are required to take the Core Course, which is taught by members of the University of Minnesota Extension and University of Minnesota faculty. The 2018 Core Course will be held Fridays and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska.  There is also an on-line option.
  • January 21: 2017 Recognition & Awards Banquet. All interns are invited to attend (and even volunteer for!) our annual celebration to recognize the outstanding work done by Extension Master Gardener Volunteers in Hennepin County. The event is free for volunteers; you can bring a guest for $10.
  • January 27: Volunteer Fair. All interns are asked to attend a Volunteer Fair at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with their mentor. This fair will highlight volunteer opportunities, many of which will available on-line for sign-up.
  • February 5: First 2018 Update Session. Interns are required to attend the first Update Session of the year (February 5, 2018) and highly encouraged to attend all others. The Master Gardener Program in Hennepin County conducts monthly 2-hour continuing education Update meetings on the first Monday evening of each month, February – June; September — November.

Program Information:

  • There is a fee of $320.00 for Core Course publications, materials and background check; regular tuition fees are not charged.  Scholarships are available.
  • During the first year, Master Gardener Interns are required to donate 50 hours of volunteer service and complete 12 additional hours of continuing education over and above the core course. After the first year, 25 volunteer hours plus 12 continuing education hours are required annually to maintain certified Master Gardener status.

What are the certification requirements to become a Master Gardener Volunteer?

After being accepted into the Master Gardener program, a volunteer becomes an Intern and completes 48 hours of Core Course horticultural education taught by University of Minnesota staff. Topics covered in the Core Training include:

  • Soils
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Entomology
  • Plant Pathology
  • Landscape, Lawn Care
  • Indoor Plants
  • Herbaceous Plants
  • Wood Plants
  • Pesticides
  • Gardening with Wildlife

After completing the Core Course training, Interns need an additional 12 hours of continuing education and 50 hours of volunteer service to become Certified Master Gardeners. To remain certified, Master Gardener Volunteers complete 12 hours of continuing education and 25 hours of volunteer service each year.