About the Master Gardener program
The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener™ program is an internationally recognized volunteer program. It exists in all fifty states, in Canada and in the United Kingdom. Nationally, there are nearly 100,000 Master Gardener volunteers from all walks of life. They reach about 5 million people each year – the equivalent of more than $100 million in value to communities. In Minnesota, the Master Gardener program is coordinated by 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. Read about its origins on their site (106 K PDF). 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, community gardens, 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 inquiries concerning home horticulture
- assisting with county Horticulture Days
- teaching and demonstrating horticulture techniques in community and school gardens
- teaching youth and judging horticulture projects
- media interviews and articles on horticulture topics
- speaking to schools and youth groups on gardening topics
- holding plant clinics at garden centers and farmers markets
- representing the program at county and state fair exhibits
- teaching horticulture in hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement centers
Minnesota Master Gardeners by the numbers – 2015
- 2,380: active volunteers
- 143,734: hours volunteered last year
- $3.6 million: the annual value of this volunteer time per the federal rate for charitable giving of time
- 27,078: continuing education hours completed by volunteers last year to remain up-to-date on current horticulture topics and techniques
- Read more in our 2015 annual report
For media requests related to University of Minnesota Master Gardeners, please contact:
Media and public relations manager
University of Minnesota Extension