Master Gardener logo, 800x400 in yellow & green

Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Master Gardener Volunteers

What is the Master Gardener Program?

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s mission is to enable people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work. Master Gardener volunteers are a key link in helping CCE accomplish that mission in counties throughout the state. They are a group of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to extend the research knowledge to their communities.

What are the qualifications to become a Master Gardener?

  • A basic interest and knowledge about landscape and food gardening
  • Enthusiasm for acquiring and sharing horticultural knowledge and skills
  • Interest in teaching others
  • Ability to communicate written and verbally
  • Understanding of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s educational mission
  • Flexible time schedule to allow participation in the program
  • Willingness to volunteer time on horticultural projects and functions to help meet the goals of the county’s Cornell Cooperative Extension Program.

How Do I become a Master Gardener?

Training usually takes place starting in September of each odd numbered year. Training is typically held one day a week from 9AM to 3PM for 10-12 weeks, beginning the first week of September and lasting through early December. This is a regional training and the training site may vary. Past trainings have been held at the Agricultural Experiment Station and Ontario County CCE in Canandaigua. Trainees will receive 40-60 hours of course instruction on topics such as plant nutrition, soils, fruit and vegetable culture, care and maintenance of lawns and landscape plants, insects and diseases and much more. Training is provided by professionals in the field, Cornell professors and Cooperative Extension staff. If you are interested, please send your name, address and phone number to or send the information to our office. We will notify you several months in advance of the next training to see if you are still interested. There is a one time fee of $150.00 (subject to change based on costs) that covers training materials, speaker fees, refreshments, etc.

What does a Master Gardener do?

Master Gardeners are expected to share their horticultural training with the community in the form of 100 hours of volunteer work with Cooperative Extension over a two year period. Volunteer activities are somewhat flexible. After your initial 100 hours over a two year period you may continue as a Master Gardener by signing a statement that you will give a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer time over the coming year back to Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Some activities could include:

  • Answering horticultural inquiries on the telephone
  • Writing articles about gardening
  • Give lectures/demonstrations at workshops or to outside groups
  • Setting up demonstration projects in public places
  • Work with 4-H youth and school projects related to horticulture
  • Attend monthly Master Gardener meetings
  • Community improvement projects
  • Historic garden restoration
  • Organizing plant sales and public events
  • County fair informational booths
  • Increasing awareness of integrated pest management, water quality conservation and other environmental issues

How does the Master Gardener Program benefit me?

You will receive much knowledge through training sessions and workshops and become a more knowledgeable gardener. You will derive satisfaction from serving the community while extending the educational mission of Cornell Cooperative Extension. You will have the chance to meet and interact with people in your community with similar interests and talents in gardening and horticulture.

Last updated July 26, 2019