A Master Composter volunteer shows a worm bin to visitors at Farm City Day, Tompkins County NY. vermicomposting
Image by Sandy Repp

Master Composter Volunteers demonstrate composting at community events.

Master Gardener volunteers at the 2012 Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale (CCE-Tompkins).
Image by Sandy Repp

Master Gardener Volunteers organize the largest garden fair and plant sale in our region.

Community Beautification volunteers planting at Dryden Road
Image by Dan Klein

Beautification Brigade Volunteers work to keep Ithaca's public garden spaces beautiful

Gardening Program Volunteers

Join Our Gardening Program as a Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to meet people, learn new skills and share what you already know while contributing to our community. Some ongoing opportunities are listed below. Prospective volunteers complete an application form. In addition, those who volunteer to work with vulnerable populations (children, individuals with disabilities, etc.) will be asked to consent to a criminal background screening at Cooperative Extension's expense, as a means of ensuring the safety and security both of our volunteers and of the people we serve through our programs.

Beautification Brigade

Annual orientation in March, but join any time! Volunteer with the Community Beautification Program and have fun while making a difference in the City of Ithaca. The Beautification Brigade plants and maintains plantings on city traffic medians and the Ithaca Commons: pansies in the spring, colorful annuals for summer, bulbs in the fall, and winter greens for winter. Join this fun group and help make Ithaca more beautiful while learning useful gardening tips and techniques. Free and open to anyone who wishes to volunteer with the program. Email beautification@cornell.edu for more information.

Citizen Pruners

Annual training in April, but join any time! Citizen Pruner volunteers help maintain street trees and shurbs in the City of Ithaca. Volunteers work once a week from May to October. Training is provided by university and local experts and covers: urban trees, evaluating tree structure and needs, and pruning trees and shrubs. Classes are free, for those who wish to volunteer, or for members of the public who just want to learn more about pruning. To volunteer or sign up for the classes, call 272-2292 ext. 126 or email Lauren Salzman at las466@cornell.edu or visit the Citizen Pruners webpage.

Seed to Supper

Annual training for volunteers in February or MarchSeed to Supper is a series of six classes for beginning gardeners who want to learn to grow food on a budget, taught by trained community volunteers. The classes are offered for FREE and will be taught in multiple locations in Tompkins County. Class participants are expected to attend all six classes, and will receive a free 100-page gardening manual, a certificate of completion, and free vegetable seeds and seedlings at the end of the course to plant in their own gardens. for more info, visit our Seed to Supper webpage.

Master Composters

Applications due in January for annual training February-April. Master Composters are an enthusiastic group committed to promoting responsible composting in Tompkins County. Training covers all aspects of composting and includes some collaborative volunteering. After completing the training program, Master Composters give time back to the community in a variety of outreach activities. Call or email Adam Michaelides at 272-2292 x 124 or acm1@cornell.edu for information.

Master Gardeners

Training is offered in alternate years; Applications to join the next cohort of Master Gardener Volunteers will be available in the Fall of 2022, with training offered through spring of 2023. The Master Gardener program, offered throughout the U.S. and Canada, provides avid gardeners with many hours of intensive home horticulture training. In return, they share their knowledge and enthusiasm for gardening with others by volunteering to assist with garden lectures, exhibits, demonstrations, school and community gardening, phone diagnostic service, research, and many other projects. Master Gardener Volunteers at CCE-Tompkins staff a GrowLine and answer gardening questions for callers. For more information, contact Margaret Royall at 272-2292 or  mr2285@cornell.edu.


Marissa Nolan
Horticulture Team Lead
607-272-2292 x194

Last updated February 13, 2024