What is a Master Gardener Volunteer?
The Master Gardener program is an all-volunteer organization sanctioned by Land Grant institutions in each state and functions as an extension of the college or university. In Wisconsin, the program is sponsored by Division of Extension, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who aid Extension staff by helping people in the community better understand horticulture and their environment.
Enrollment Process 2021
Volunteers in the Master Gardener Program are required to “enroll” in the program each year. This includes activating your account in the Online Reporting System (ORS) and agreeing to the conditions of volunteer service and the volunteer behavior agreement. If you have not done so already please begin this process soon.
The enrollment process begins January 1 and ends March 31, 2021.
To become a certified Master Gardener Volunteer, you must attend designated training sessions, volunteer time to your community equal to the amount of instruction, and pass a final exam. To remain certified, each year you will need to complete 24 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education. Currently there are no designated training opportunities scheduled in Forest County, but please contact Michelle Gobert at 715-478-7797 if you are interested in adding your name to our list of interested future participants.
Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect Training
Extension staff and Master Gardener Volunteers are required to complete mandatory child abuse and neglect reporter online training. Even though some people may not volunteer with youth, they have the potential to interact with youth. No exceptions.
Who Can Participate?
Any adult (18 years or older) can participate in the Master Gardener Volunteer Program – no previous experience or training is necessary, although many people have some experience.
What You Can Do as a Master Gardener Volunteer?
In exchange for the training, you are asked to volunteer hours equivalent to the number of training hours received for that year. The following programs offer a sample of the opportunities open to Master Gardener Volunteers:
- Extension demonstration and community gardens
- County and community fairs
- Botanical gardens
- Horticultural workshops and talks
- Horticultural therapy projects
- Farmers’ markets
- Answering telephone inquiries for horticultural information
- Write newspaper gardening columns
- Volunteer at your county Extension office
- Local parks or beautification committees
- Youth groups such as 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts.
Many Master Gardener Volunteers donate their time beyond the required minimum numbers of hours. They volunteer thousands of hours of horticulture-related community service annually.
Cooperative Extension has been helping people solve their agricultural problems since 1913. Extension agents/farm advisors supervised “Victory gardens” during World War I and II and have helped home and community gardeners ever since. Eventually, a voluntary educational program was initiated to teach gardening to people who would then extend the information to others in the community. The first Master Gardener Volunteer Program was started in 1972 in Washington State. Since then, Master Gardener Volunteer Programs have spread to over 45 states and four Canadian provinces, and boasts of more than 45,000 volunteers.
Learn more about becoming a Master Gardener and the programs strategic priorities online at the Division of Extension Master Gardener Program page.