Master Gardener volunteers at the 2012 Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale
Image by Sandy Repp

Master Gardener volunteers at the 2012 Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Master Gardeners plant and maintain demonstration gardens at CCE Tompkins

Master Gardeners plant and maintain demonstration gardens at CCE Tompkins

Master Gardeners potting up perennials for the Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Master Gardeners potting up perennials for the Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Special garden visits and tours are organized for the Master Gardeners

Special garden visits and tours are organized for the Master Gardeners

Assisting customers at the Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Assisting customers at the Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Master Gardeners

What is the Master Gardener Program?

The Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to expand educational outreach throughout the community by providing home gardeners with research-based information. Master Gardeners assist with gardening projects in the community, teach classes and workshops, plant and maintain demonstration gardens at CCE, provide information and soil pH testing at events, and answer gardening questions.

 The first Master Gardener program was started in Washington state in 1972. Forty-six states now have Master Gardener programs. For information on Master Gardener programs outside Schoharie-Otsego Counties, visit the New York State Master Gardener Program website.

Who Becomes a Master Gardener?

Master Gardeners enjoy people and plants. They usually have no professional gardening or landscaping experience, only a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge, and sufficient free time to volunteer in Master Gardener activities.

Qualification for Trainees

Master Gardener trainees should have a basic knowledge of, or interest in, gardening; enthusiasm for acquiring and sharing horticultural knowledge and skills; good communications skills; and a willingness and free time to participate in volunteer educational activities.

Volunteers complete a brief written application, and have a short interview with members of our horticulture staff.  

Master Gardener Training

Master Gardener training is held in alternate years. Trainees receive training on a broad spectrum of subjects applicable to home gardening, such as plant nutrition, soils, vegetable and fruit culture, trees, shrubs and lawns, diseases and insects that affect plants, pruning, and much more.  Advanced instruction is offered, and special seminars and refresher workshops are held so that Master Gardeners can stay current on gardening topics and keep their knowledge up-to-date.

You can learn more about the topics that are covered in the training by visiting the NY State Master Gardener Volunteer Program pages on the Cornell University website.

Please call for information on when the next Master Gardener volunteer training will be offered, and to receive an application form.

Volunteer Commitment

Each Master Gardener trainee commits to "give back" an additional hours of service over a two year time period following certification. After that, you can be as involved with the program as you would like to be. Some Master Gardeners have volunteered for many years and enjoy the satisfaction of helping their local communities and the camaraderie of fellow gardeners, monthly meetings, holiday gatherings, and group field trips to visit beautiful and unique gardens in our region that also are part of the program.

To fulfill their volunteer time commitment, Master Gardeners have in the past worked in the office to test soil samples, maintained files of gardening information, answered gardening questions through our "Grow Line", taught gardening classes, organized and run the annual Spring Garden day & Plant Sales, spoken or demonstrated to groups, and worked in the Education Center's gardens. New program initiatives also are welcomed!

What are Master Gardeners doing in Schoharie and Otsego Counties?

The Schoharie-Otsego Counties Master Gardeners are involved in many activities. Here are some of them:

  • Assisting with gardening projects in the community
  • Teaching and assisting with gardening classes and workshops
  • Testing soil samples brought into the Cooperative Extension office
  • Maintaining Cooperative Extension gardening information files
  • Answering gardening questions phoned or e-mailed into the GROWLINE, the horticultural hotline
  • Arranging public workshops on vegetable gardening, wreathmaking, gardening with perennials,square foot gardening, plant dyes and other topics
  • Organizing the annual Plant Sales
  • Designing and maintaining demonstration gardens at the Cooperative Extension Center

For more information . . .

If you are interested in becoming a Schoharie and Otsego Counties Master Gardener, please send your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address to David Cox at the address below.

Last updated February 13, 2017