The Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) program provides intensive training in horticulture to interested Ohio residents who then volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities for Ohio residents through their local OSU Extension county office. Volunteers are not required to have gardening skills or knowledge; a passion for learning about gardening and sharing this knowledge with others is a must!
Working with county Extension personnel, Master Gardener Volunteers provide educational services to their communities such as: answering gardening questions from the public; conducting plant clinics; gardening activities with children, senior citizens, or disabled persons; beautifying the community; developing community or demonstration gardens; and other horticultural activities.
We are Ohio State University Extension-trained volunteers empowered to educate others with timely research-based gardening information.
- Integrated pest management (focuses on teaching and demonstrating IPM techniques in the garden and landscape)
- Invasive species (focuses on teaching our clientele about the potential damage that invasive species might cause to the environment, and managing/eradicating invasive species)
- Backyard and local foods (focuses on community gardens, local food councils/policies, urban agriculture/farms, and teaching and demonstrating how to grow vegetables)
- Environmental horticulture (focuses on a wide variety of horticulture programs including storm water management, rain gardens, good plant selection practices, demonstration gardens, and more)
How did the Master Gardener Volunteer Program originate?
The Master Gardener Volunteer program originated in Seattle, Washington in 1972. The Extension agent in the King County office of the Washington State University Extension Service began to train and utilize the expertise of volunteers to more effectively reach the gardening public with research-based educational information. It was a great concept that has now spread across the United States, to Canada and other countries.
The Master Gardener Volunteer program in Ohio has existed since the late 1970s and has grown steadily. Although its initial start and growth was in the more urban counties of our state, there are now more than 3,000 active Master Gardener Volunteers in more than 62 Ohio counties (urban, suburban and rural).
How do I know if I would make a good Master Gardener Volunteer?
You could qualify to be an Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer if:
- You want to learn more about plants and gardening.
- You are eager to participate in a practical and intensive training program.
- You enjoy sharing your knowledge with others.
- You have the time to attend training and serve your community as a volunteer educator.
When is Master Gardener Volunteer training conducted?
Most Master Gardener Volunteer training takes place in late winter to early spring (late January through March). However, some counties train in the summer or fall. Most training is conducted during the day, since most volunteer opportunities take place during the day. However, some counties do evening training.
Recruitment of new volunteers usually begins two to three months before training begins. Contact your local County Extension office for specific details.
Is there a fee for Master Gardener Volunteer training?
Yes, there is a fee for Master Gardener Volunteer training. The fee covers the cost of training materials and other expenses the county may incur to conduct training and to help support educational activities. Fees vary from county to county.
How can I find out more about my county's Master Gardener Volunteer program?
For more information on your local Master Gardener Volunteer program, click on the Counties link in the left column on this page and then click on your county name. If your county has a volunteer program, you'll find the information about the program as well as details about the next training class. You will receive an application packet. To volunteer for any Ohio State University Extension program, you must complete the First Advantage online background check and an interview with Extension professionals. If there is not a program in the county, it's usually due to a lack of resources to manage a volunteer program of this nature.
Is there more after the initial training?
Yes, volunteers can recertify by obtaining 10 continuing education credits each year as well as complete the number of volunteer hours required by the county (this varies from program to program). In addition, there is a $10 state support fee due each year; some counties also charge dues for membership.