What is the Master Gardener Program?
The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a national program and in Maine is part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The overall objective of the Master Gardener Program is to educate home gardeners, address community efforts related to horticulture and support the educational mission of the UMaine Extension. The mission of the UMaine Extension is to help Maine people improve their lives through an educational process that uses research-based knowledge focused on issues and needs.
Individuals apply for enrollment in the Master Gardener Volunteer training program to learn about horticulture. This training involves both classroom and hands-on experience. After their basic training, Master Gardeners volunteer a minimum of 40 hours of their time to develop, adapt and extend research-based horticultural information and educational programs to the residents of their respective county. Trainees will become certified Master Gardener Volunteers after successful completion of the training and 40-hours of volunteer time in an approved outreach project. Acceptable projects include garden/environmental exhibits, lectures or public presentations, and garden demonstration projects that are open and accessible to the public. Such activities may also include:
All projects require the approval of the Master Gardener Program Coordinator.
Any resident of Maine interested in studying horticulture and volunteering in community gardening projects may apply to the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. Since we usually receive more applications than we can accommodate, applications are subject to screening for county residence, gardening and community service experience.
If you are a person with a disability and will need any accommodations to participate in this program, please call the UMaine Extension Office in York County at 207-324-2814 to discuss your needs. Please contact the Master Gardener Program Coordinator two weeks prior to the start of the training to assure fullest possible attention to your needs.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension will provide a minimum of 60 hours of Master Gardener volunteer training. Training will be interactive with lecture, hands-on learning demonstrations, and self-directed learning activities. Class participation, discussions, presentations and quizzes will be used to monitor progress of volunteers.
The title of Certified Master Gardener Volunteer is awarded to participants who successfully complete both the training program and the 40 hours of volunteer time within a specified time. Participants must attend at least 80% of all training sessions; demonstrate knowledge and skills by achieving at least an overall average score of 70%. Individuals requiring special accommodation should make arrangements with the county Master Gardener Coordinator.
Use of the title “Master Gardener”
The title Master Gardener should only be used by individuals trained in a Cooperative Extension program. The title is valid only when used by an active Master Gardener who is participating in a program approved by the local Master Gardener Coordinator. When an individual ceases to be active in the Master Gardener program, their designation as Master Gardener ceases.
Master Gardeners should not display credentials of give the appearance of being a Master Gardener at a place of business unless that place has been designated as a site for Extension education. The title “Master Gardener” should not be used in a manner which implies Cooperative Extension endorsement of any product or place of business.
The title Master Gardeners should be used only when doing unpaid volunteer work for Extension. When experienced Master Gardeners speak before groups on horticultural subjects, they may accept unsolicited reimbursements (such as reimbursements for expenses) or non-monetary gifts. If an organization such as a garden club or Adult Education Program offers an honorarium, such funds should be donated to the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program in that county to support on-going programs and projects. It is inappropriate, however, to seek speaking engagements for pay while participating in an authorized Extension activity and using the title Master Gardener.
Master Gardeners trained and/or certified from other areas:
Individuals who have completed the Master Gardener Volunteer Training in another state or county in Maine may be certified as a Master Gardener in Maine. This certification is approved by the county Master Gardener Coordinator.
Master Gardener Volunteers who wish to remain certified and active in the program must continue to volunteer at least 20 hours per year and periodically attend advanced training opportunities. These opportunities include field days, tours, or special workshops and courses. There is no fee for continuing as a Master Gardener Volunteer. Master Gardener Volunteers may make arrangements with the coordinator for a temporary leave of absence.
Master Gardener Volunteers are required to complete a monthly time log to report their activities, time spent and contacts made. This minimal record-keeping process helps the local Extension staff monitor the progress and effectiveness of individuals’ outreach efforts. Volunteer reports can have a great impact on future funding for this program.
Because Cooperative Extension is liable for its advice, and because pesticide recommendations for organic or synthetic products change constantly, only Extension personnel may recommend pesticides when representing Cooperative Extension. Master Gardener Volunteers are encouraged to refer all requests for pesticide recommendations to the county Extension office or the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office, 491 College Avenue, Orono, Maine 04473; Telephone 1-800-287-0279; or website at extension.umaine.edu/ipm.
There is a fee for the basic Master Gardener Training course. This fee covers expenses that include handout reference materials, other publications, supplies and meeting expenses, and Maine Garden Day registration. The fee is due on the first day of class following acceptance in the program (if necessary, other payment arrangements can be made). If the fee is a barrier to an individual, he or she may contact the county Master Gardener Coordinator. Limited scholarships are available.