bee on flower

Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Gazebo at CCE Albany County

The gardens at CCE Albany County

The Master Gardener booth at the Altamont Fair

The Master Gardener booth at the Altamont Fair

Master Gardener Program

MG logo

What is a “Master Gardener?"


A Master Gardener is a volunteer who:

  • assists Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide educational horticulture programs for the public
  • staffs a “question and answer” phone hotline
  • has completed the Master Gardener Training Course offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension in
  • conjunction with Cornell University Master Gardeners assist Extension personnel with soil and diagnostic clinics, demonstrations, exhibits, lectures, and phone inquires from Albany County residents.


    ***Please contact the Master Gardener Volunteer Program Coordinator in the NY county where you reside if interested in applying to the MGV program. To find the contact person for your county search by the County Name along with Cornell Cooperative Extension then look under Gardening tab. For NYC counties contact either West Chester or Nassau County.


    How can I become a Master Gardener?

    Note: In New York State, Cornell Cooperative Extension offices recruit and train Master Gardener Volunteers for their specific county.To apply to become a Master Gardener Volunteer in Albany County, please contact Carole Henry at ch878@cornell.eduIf you reside in another county, please reach out to the CCE office in your county.

    *Albany County applications are being accepted for Fall 2023; we train our volunteers every other year.*

    Applicants will be screened in June and interviews will be set up in July. Those accepted will have an orientation in late August and will be required to attend weekly training sessions from September to mid-December (60 Hour course). Instructors from local Cooperative Extension offices will cover a number of horticultural topics to prepare volunteers for their role as Master Gardeners. Each participant will be asked to do an Action Project to present to the class as their Final Exam.At the end of the initial training period, the Trainees will undergo a background check and must complete Harassment training before volunteering.The Trainee will also be assigned a MGV Mentor to assist them through their first year and will attend a Hotline Orientation prior to volunteering on the phones.

    The following year, volunteers will complete the minimum 60 hours of volunteer service. Of those 60 hours, 20 will be spent on the phone hotline assisting callers with gardening questions. In order to get an overall appreciation for what our MGV’s do in the community, remaining hours will consist of a combination of the following activities:Demonstration Gardens & Compost Area, Garden-Based Learning Projects, Community Events & Projects, Farmers’ Markets.Each volunteer will be given the choice as to which events/projects to participate in.

    After volunteers meet all criteria (Training, Action Project, 60 hours of volunteer service), they will receive a Master Gardener Certificate and may use the Master Gardener title when attending Cornell Cooperative Extension events.

    Our goal is to have Master Gardeners remain involved in the program beyond the first year.

    Sixty hours of volunteer time per year is required after the first year in order to remain active in the program. Volunteers who do not meet the 60 hours per year requirement relinquish their right to the Master Gardener title.

    We follow the above procedure because volunteers represent Cornell University, and distribute information to the public. Therefore, volunteers must remain current on horticulture information. We also want to promote the sense of a “gardening family” within the Master Gardener program.

    What is the cost?

    There is a program fee to help defray the cost of Master Gardener training materials and bulletins. Volunteers receive (and keep) Cornell publications about different topics such as: pruning, lawn care, growing fruit, and insect identification. Though the fee varies each year according to materials distributed, it's approximately $300.00.

    Constraints

    Since Master Gardeners represent Cornell University, volunteers may not use the Master Gardener title beyond Cornell Cooperative Extension sponsored events. For example, volunteers may not put “Master Gardener” on business cards, nor may they promote another business by using the Master Gardener title. Master Gardeners may not use the Master Gardener title to earn money for themselves.

    Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a program that emphasizes exploring all options for pest management including: “practicing tolerance,” “practicing prevention,” “using mechanical controls,” and “using chemical controls.” Volunteers in the Master Gardener Program must be able to make suggestions based on Cornell recommendations rather than making suggestions based on “home remedies” or personal preference. 

    Have questions?
    Please call or email the
    Albany County Master Gardener Coordinator…

    The Master Gardener Coordinator will explain the volunteer program to you. It takes about 15 minutes to do so. She will then send you an Application Packet by mail or email. Complete the application and mail it to: Master Gardener Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 24 Martin Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186. Thank you for your interest in promoting education in Horticulture.

    Contact

    Carole Henry
    Master Gardener Coordinator, Albany County CCE
    ch878@cornell.edu
    518-765-3516

    Last updated November 18, 2021