A Master Gardener is a volunteer who:
Applicants will be screened in June and interviews will be set up in July. Those accepted will have an orientation in late August and begin weekly training sessions in September, October and November. Instructors from local Cooperative Extension offices will cover a number of horticultural topics to prepare volunteers for their role as Master Gardeners. As part of the training program, volunteers will also attend the Master Gardener monthly staff meetings scheduled for September, October, and November. Additionally, volunteers will complete a total of four hours of Hotline phone training in our Voorheesville office. At the end of the whole training period, volunteers will take a pass/fail, open-book final exam.
Beginning in the year following training, volunteers will complete 60 hours of volunteer service. Of those 60 hours, 20 will be spent on the phone hotline assisting callers with gardening questions.
The remaining 40 hours may be met through any of the following:
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.
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 falls between $200.00 and $225.00.
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.
Call the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County Agriculture Office at 518-765-3516. The Master Gardener Coordinator will explain the volunteer program to you. It takes about 15 minutes to do so. Then you will receive an application in the mail. Complete the application and mail it to: Horticulture, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Voorheesville, NY 12186. Thank you for your interest in promoting education in Horticulture.
Last updated October 20, 2017