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Become a WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer

Do you want to learn more about gardening, meet new people and make a difference in the community? The WSU Extension Master Gardener Program may be just right for you. You will learn science-based knowledge to tackle the yard and garden problems that matter to you, your friends, and neighbors and to your community.

The Application Process:

People interested in joining the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program should contact their local office for specific application materials including important dates and deadlines.

The process of becoming a WSU Extension Master Gardener is enjoyable and rewarding. It starts by completing and submitting an application, undergoing a background check because WSU Extension volunteers often work with youth and vulnerable adults, and participating in an interview or orientation which gives us an opportunity to get to know you and you an opportunity to learn more about what being a WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer means. Then training begins.

The Training:

WSU Extension Master Gardener training is online and in-person. Online training walks trainees through lessons on topics like botany, soils, food gardening, plant diseases and entomology. All master gardener volunteers in Washington complete online training. The in-person training is conducted in local counties. It is hands-on, experiential and teaches trainees how to apply what is learned on-line to real world situations that WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers encounter. The timing of and the number of in-person classes varies from county to county.

There is a fee associated with training that is set by each county.  The fee includes online training, an e-copy of the Master Gardener Manual, a flash drive with the curriculum and in-person training. 

The Internship:

At the completion of training, trainees become interns. Interns volunteer along-side certified WSU Extension Master Gardeners to further develop their knowledge and skills and to become comfortable working as community educators and with participating in our programs (our programs). At a minimum intern volunteers must give at least 40 hours to earn WSU Extension Master Gardener certification. Local Counties may require additional and/or specific internship hours to earn certification.

The Commitment:

Once you become a certified WSU Extension Master Gardener you volunteer at least 25 hours of time and earn at least 10 hours of continuing education per year to maintain your certification.  Individual counties may require additional hours.  At the end of each year, if you’ve met the minimum requirements to maintain your certification your interest in remaining with the Program is confirmed via your submission of a simple re-application form.  There is no fee associated with re-applying yearly.

Be a Master Gardener – for life:

Certified WSU Extension Master Gardeners who have a minimum of 500 hours of volunteer service; ten years of volunteer service; or exemplary service to the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program may be eligible for emeritus status. Other county-specific stipulations may also be required. Once emeritus status is granted your fully active volunteering days are over, but you remain a Master Gardener for life.

Master Gardeners in action collage.

The Steps:

Contact the WSU Extension office in your county.

The selection process will vary depending on each county’s particular needs as does the training schedule.

Request and complete that county’s application form.

Some counties may have the application form and instructions on their web site.

Complete a criminal background check.

A criminal background check will be required because WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers may work with children and vulnerable adults. The background check form will be part of the application.

Complete enrollment documents and payment.

Those selected to enter that county’s MG program will be asked to review and sign the enrollment documents and pay training fees. They may also be required to attend an orientation.

Complete MG training and volunteer hours.

To become a Certified WSU Extension Master Gardener, applicants must:

  • Complete the Online Training course.
  • Attend scheduled classes, pass quizzes and exams.
  • Volunteer and document the required minimum number of volunteer hours.