Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

How to Become a Master Gardener

Information and Application

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Applications open on July 1,2016
and close at 4pm on Friday September 9, 2016

Are you interested in lifelong learning? Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others? Do you love to garden? And do you like volunteering in your community? MMGs do all this and more! Working with fellow gardening enthusiasts you will gain knowledge about the life of the garden, and put what you know into practice for the benefit of home gardeners, our community, and our environment. Among other things, MMGs encourage sustainable landscape practices, support the creation of local food sources, and train people to promote youth gardening. Last year, MMGs donated thousands of hours to our community.

The MMG Training Program is an intensive 18-week overview course that provides a practical review of horticulture and sustainable landscape practices. Classes meet every Thursday from January through mid-May. Before the first class, each Trainee is introduced to a mentor who will guide you throughout the training class and introduce you to the Master Gardener organization. Classes are taught by: University of California faculty and staff, landscape and nursery professionals, local horticulture educators and certified Master Gardeners.

Topics that are covered in the Training Program include:

Climate, Microclimate and Site Analysis

Growing Vegetables and Fruits

Botany and Plant Taxonomy

Plant Pathology

Soils, Composting and Mulching

Insect Pests and Beneficial Insects

Plant Propagation

Integrated Pest Management


Water Wise Irrigation Practices

Ornamental Plants, Trees, and Shrubs

Garden Planning

Native and Low Water Plants

Weeds, Invasives, Fire-safe Planting

in class


Any Marin resident with an interest in horticulture and a desire to volunteer for community service may apply to the Master Gardener Training Program. Marin Master Gardeners are people of all ages and come from all walks of life. They share an enthusiasm for gardening, some knowledge of plants, a willingness to learn and help others, and the ability to communicate with diverse groups of people.

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is part of a nationwide program established by an Act of Congress in 1914 as part of the Land Grant University in every state. The mission of the UCCE is to develop, extend, and bring about the use of research-based knowledge to improve specific practices and technologies, and this is where the Master Gardener program fits in, providing the home gardener with research-based information from the University of California.

In addition to completing the Training Program and its requirements, first year MMGs are required to complete at least 50 hours of Marin Master Gardener sponsored volunteer service and 12 hours of appropriate continuing education. To remain a certified MMG thereafter, a minimum of 25 hours of MMG-sponsored volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education are required. 

Master Gardeners are the go-to people for University of California research-based horticulture information and for teaching sustainable gardening practices for healthy homes and gardens. They staff an information help desk in the UCCE office, answering questions, diagnosing plant problems, and giving horticultural assistance to home gardeners. They provide information through newspaper articles, plant clinics, talks and demonstrations and they work on a broad range of community horticultural and gardening projects. To learn more about Marin Master Gardener volunteer opportunities, go to Garden Projects or watch the We Are Master Gardeners video below.


To become a UC Master Gardener in Marin (MMG) Trainees must participate in and complete the Training Program. Our all of volunteer Training Team works hard to create a stimulating, exciting and varied Training Program. The list below describes what is necessary to become a MMG.

  1. Applicants must be Marin County residents.
  2. All applications are due by 4pm, Friday, September 9, 2016.
  3. Interviews are held September 28-October 4, 2016.
  4. A non-refundable Training Program fee of $325 is due only upon acceptance into the Training Program but no later than Friday, October 28, 2016. Limited scholarships are available based on financial need.
  5. An Orientation for all new class members is held on Thursday, November 3, 2016.
  6. UCCE requires all volunteers accepted into the Training Program to be fingerprinted by the Marin County Sheriff on or before Wednesday, November 23, 2016.
  7. Trainees must attend all eighteen (18) training classes held every Thursday beginning on January 5, 2017 and continuing through graduation on May 4, 2017. Classes begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. and end by 3:30 p.m. Most classes will be held at College of Marin Indian Valley Campus in Novato. Some classes are held at other locations.
  8. In addition to attendance at all Training Program classes, Trainees are required to complete rigorous coursework outside of regular class hours. This work includes:
    a. Weekly reading (30 to 50 pages) from various assigned sources including textbooks and the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website
    b. Weekly homework assignments
    c. A Garden Planning Project (a cumulative project spanning several weeks)
    d. A small group research problem including presentation
    e. Additional weekday training sessions at the Help Desk
    f. An open-book final exam with a grade of 70% or higher
  9. The time commitment for the MMG Training Program is estimated to be 20-25 hours per week, including time spent in class, with some weeks requiring more hours.
  10. Basic word processing, Internet research, and other computer skills will be necessary to perform the work of a Trainee and Master Gardener.
  11. The MMG Training Program supplies course textbooks except that Trainees must provide their own copy of the 2012 edition of the Sunset Western Garden Book.
  12. By June 30, 2018, Trainees must complete:
    a. 50 Volunteer Hours on MMG activities and projects. Volunteer Hours must include at least one shift at one of the MMG Farmers Markets and at least 18 hours at the Help Desk in the UCCE Office. (These 18 hours are scheduled on weekdays and are in addition to the Thursday classes. Twelve of these 18 hours are training sessions.)
    b. Twelve Continuing Education Hours (CE). In addition to the training class attendance, after graduation, Trainees must complete 12 hours of CE as defined by MMG.
  13. To remain certified in each year after the first year, MMGs must provide a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer service on MMG activities and projects and 12 hours of CE, 4 of which must be UCCE/MMG-sponsored.

Timeline for 2107 Application

Fri, Sept 9, 2016 Applications due in the UCCE Office by 4pm
Wed, Sept 28
Thurs, Sept 29
Fri, Sept 30
Mon, October 3
Tues, October 4
Selected applicant interviews 
By Fri, October 7 Acceptances emailed
Fri, October 28 All course fees due
Thurs, November 3 Orientation at Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross
Wed, November 23 Fingerprinting completed
January 2017 (TBA) Holiday Celebration – All Master Gardeners and new class members
Thurs, January 5 Training Program Classes begin (9:00 am - 3:30pm every Thursday for 18 weeks)
May 4, 2017 Graduation
September 2017 (TBA) MMG Annual Meeting and Celebration

UC Marin Master Gardener Application
Completed applications must be submitted by 4pm, Friday, September 9, 2016. The link to the online Application is at the bottom of this page. Our strong preference is for online Applications but if you must submit a paper Application, please pick one up at the UCCE Office located at 1682 Novato Blvd, Suite 150-B in Novato 94947. Office hours are Monday through Friday 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm.

Candidates selected for interviews come to the UCCE Office (see address above) for a 15-minute interview on one of the interview dates listed above. Because of the number of applications received, we regret that we will not be able to accommodate or interview all that apply. We welcome re-application in subsequent years.

Accepted applicants meet at an Orientation on Thursday, November 3 and the Training Program is held every Thursday beginning on January 5, 2017 and ending on May 4, 2017.

Click here to complete the Marin Master Gardener Application.

In accordance with applicable State and Federal laws and University policy, the University of California does not discriminate in any of its policies, procedures, or practices on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, medical condition, ancestry, citizenship or disability. Inquiries regarding this policy may be addressed to the Affirmative Action Director, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 1111 Franklin Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200, (510) 987-0096.

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