Become a Master Gardener!
What to Know--
What is a Master Gardener?
UC Master Gardeners are trained representatives of the University of California Cooperative Extension. We provide research-based information, advice and education for the home gardener.
Who can be a Master Gardener?
Any Merced County adult resident with an interest in horticulture and public service may apply for the Master Gardener Program.
Other requirements include time to complete the 16 week training and, upon certification, having the time to volunteer knowledge to the community. A passion for gardening, good communication skills to a diverse group of people and a desire for continued education are also helpful.
The Merced program is held every year, alternating between Mariposa and Merced counties for training locations.
What is the training program?
Classes are held once a week (weekdays only) for 4 hours beginning in January. Every class must be attended. Instructors are University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisors, horticultural specialists and community experts. The curriculum provides a practical course in plant science and horticulture. Topics include an introduction to horticulture; soil and plant nutrition; water and fertilizer management; pest identification and control; management of home orchards and landscape trees; home vegetable gardening; plant diseases and diagnosis; composting; weed identification and management, and much more. While in training, the student is assigned a Master Gardener mentor who will support and assist the student throughout the program. Completion of the coursework and a passing grade on the open book final exam earns the student certification as a Master Gardener.
Is there a fee for the training?
Yes. There is a fee to cover training and resource materials. The amount is determined mid-year once expenses for the upcoming program have been determined. The 2017 fee is $195. Scholarships may be available in special circumstances.
What is the commitment to the program once certification is received?
New Master Gardeners are required to contribute 50 hours of community volunteer work during the twelve months following certification. In subsequent years the Master Gardener is required to contribute at least 25 hours each year to stay active. In addition, each Master Gardener must obtain at least 12 hours of continuing education each year. Continuing education programs are frequently made available to the Master Gardener after the monthly membership meeting or special events.
What type of volunteer work is available?
Merced County has a number of programs in which our Master Gardener Volunteers participate. They include staffing a phone information Helpline; information booths at the fair and farmers’ markets; outreach programs to introduce elementary school children to gardening; fundraisers such as the annual plant sale and spring garden tour; public outreach through workshops, talks, demonstrations; and other horticultural and gardening projects.
A little more about us…
The Master Gardener concept originated in 1972 in Washington State. With a growing interest in home gardening and an increase in the volume of research based information available, a group of university extension advisors sought a better way to disseminate information to the public. Thus, the Master Gardener Program was born. Introduced in California in 1979, with pilot programs in Riverside and Sacramento counties, there are now over 40 active Master Gardener programs in California. Merced has participated since 2009.
Merced Master Gardeners are advised and supported by Scott Stoddard, County Director/Farm Advisor Merced County; David Doll, Farm Advisor Merced County; and Marilynne Manfredi, volunteer Master Garden Chairperson.