The Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to expand educational outreach throughout the community by providing home gardeners with research-based information. Master Gardeners assist with gardening projects in the community, teach classes and workshops, plant and maintain demonstration gardens at CCETC, provide information and soil pH testing at events, and answer gardening questions that come in to the GrowLine, a horticultural hotline.
The first Master Gardener program was started in Washington state in 1972. Forty-six states now have Master Gardener programs. For information on Master Gardener programs outside Tompkins County, visit the New York State Master Gardener Program website.
Master Gardeners enjoy people and plants. They usually have no professional gardening or landscaping experience, only a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge, and sufficient free time to volunteer in Master Gardener activities.
Master Gardener trainees should have a basic knowledge of, or interest in, gardening; enthusiasm for acquiring and sharing horticultural knowledge and skills; good communications skills; and a willingness and free time to participate in volunteer educational activities.
Volunteers complete a brief written application, and have a short interview with members of our horticulture staff. Priority for selection is given to Tompkins County residents. There is a $150 cost for training materials - scholarships are available upon request. In return, you commit to volunteering 80 hours over the next two years.
Master Gardener training is held in alternate years and will be held again beginning in SEPTEMBER 2018. Trainees receive training on a broad spectrum of subjects applicable to home gardening, such as plant nutrition, soils, vegetable and fruit culture, trees, shrubs and lawns, diseases and insects that affect plants, pruning, and much more. Advanced instruction is offered, and special seminars and refresher workshops are held so that Master Gardeners can stay current on gardening topics and keep their knowledge up-to-date.
You can learn more about the topics that are covered in the training by visiting the NY State Master Gardener Volunteer Program pages on the Cornell University website.
Please call for information on when the next Master Gardener volunteer training will be offered, and to receive an application form.
Each Master Gardener trainee commits to "give back" an additional 80 hours of service over a two year time period following certification. After that, you can be as involved with the program as you would like to be. Some Master Gardeners have volunteered for many years and enjoy the satisfaction of helping their local communities and the camaraderie of fellow gardeners, monthly meetings, holiday gatherings, and group field trips to visit beautiful and unique gardens in our region that also are part of the program. Master Gardeners love to be part of a community of enthusiastic gardeners committed to community service.
To fulfill their volunteer time commitment, Master Gardeners have in the past worked in the office to test soil samples, maintained files of gardening information, answered gardening questions through our "Grow Line", taught gardening classes, organized and run the annual Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sales, written articles for publication, spoken or demonstrated to groups, and worked in the Education Center's gardens. New program initiatives also are welcomed!
Tompkins County has had this program for a number of years, and it is a very successful program. Right now, we have approximately 65 active Master Gardener volunteers who do a number of different activities in the county. It is a very popular program and we normally have more than enough applicants to fill the training program every two years.
The Tompkins County Master Gardeners are involved in many activities. Here are some of them:
If you are interested in becoming a Tompkins County Master Gardener, please send your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address to the contact listed below.
Last updated March 13, 2018