- Author: Kathy Low
If you enjoy gardening, constantly learning more about gardening, and are interested in helping your local community, then consider becoming a UCCE Master Gardener. In comparison to other volunteer programs, the Master Gardener program allows volunteers to select those locations, times and days to perform their volunteer duties. There's no set weekly times and days on which they are required to volunteer. Volunteers get to choose to from an ongoing calendar of events as to what activities they wish to volunteer for. These events range from providing answers to gardening questions received from the public at information tables at farmers markets, fairs and other special events, to working with children at garden craft events at the local library, to planning, implementing and maintaining school gardens, pollinator gardens, or other educational gardens, to giving gardening presentations to community groups. Plus, Master Gardeners have the opportunity to attend numerous continuing education talks given by UC academics and other experts. Besides having the opportunity to choose your volunteer activities, and access to continuing education opportunities, another benefit of becoming a Master Gardener is being able to interact with other Master Gardeners and with other people in the community who also love gardening.
Individuals desiring to become Master Gardeners must undergo fifteen weeks of training and education in a wide range of topics ranging from plant pathology to integrated pest management, and pass a final exam. First-year Master Gardeners are required to volunteer a minimum of fifty hours. In subsequent years they are required to volunteer only a minimum of twenty-five hours and complete a minimum of twelve hours of continuing education to remain certified in the program.