Hero Image

Become a Master Gardener

Do you love gardening?  Do you have volunteer spirit? Do you like to teach and share your knowledge and skills with others? Do you enjoy working as a team with other like-minded garden enthusiasts?


Link to submit your interest for the 2025 training



The UC Master Gardener Program (MGP) is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE). A UCCE Master Gardener volunteer is anyone eighteen (18) years of age or older who, on an unpaid basis, agrees to provide a service or conduct an activity that supports the goals of the UCCE MGP.

Humboldt/Del Norte County residents with an interest in community service, gardening and horticulture. They are adults from all walks of life: professionals, educators, business men and women, homemakers, retirees – brought together by a common interest in gardening and outreach to their community.  Volunteers share in this video why they generously give their time to the various programs at University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources


Intensive 19 weeks training consists of weekly live Zoom classroom sessions as well as monthly in-person hands-on/demonstration classes. Training commences after the New Year and ends before summer. All Master Gardener Trainees must pass a written final examination with a minimum score of 70%. In addition to weekly classes, you can expect weekly reading, homework, quizzes, and recorded lectures/demonstrations to watch online.

The training program provides a basic, general, integrated, and practical course in horticulture, pest management, extension methodology and UCCE MGP policies and procedures. Core subjects include: General Botany and Plant Physiology, Soil and Fertilizer Management, Water Management, Integrative Pest Management, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Weed Management, Vertebrate Pests, Vegetable Culture, Turfgrass Management, Ornamental Plant Culture, Plant Problem Diagnosis, Extension Teaching and Information Delivery, UCCE MGP Policies and Procedures.

Training is taught by experts in their fields, including University of California faculty and staff, local horticulture educators as well as experienced Master Gardeners.


The tuition for the training course to be determined and announced at the time applications are made available.  The nonrefundable fee covers the cost of required textbooks, name badge and miscellaneous training expenses. 

In addition, due to University policy, UCCE Master Gardeners must be screened through Live Scan fingerprinting to be accepted as a UCCE volunteer. Fingerprinting can be done through various law enforcement agencies with their associated fees.

  1. Email – all program correspondence is disseminated through email.
  2. Internet access – weekly live classes via Zoom, online weekly quizzes, viewing recorded lectures/demonstrations, accessing online resources.
  3. Commitment to attend all classes, study, watch recorded lectures/demos and homework.
  4. Attendance and transportation to the monthly Saturday in-person classes:
    1. Del Norte County trainees - will be at a location in Del Norte.
    2. Humboldt County trainees - will be at a location in Humboldt.
    3. Optional - open invitation to attend in-person class outside of your home county.
  • A MG volunteer trainee is eligible for “appointment” after becoming certified (passing the training course) and submitting required documents.
  • First year appointment (internship) requirement – 50 hours of volunteer service in approved education outreach activities. Attendance to monthly meetings is strongly encouraged.
  • Subsequent appointment years thereafter – 12 hours of continuing education and 25 hours in approved volunteer education outreach are required in each subsequent year to remain a certified UCCE Master Gardener. Attendance to monthly meetings is strongly encouraged.
  • All Master Gardeners will record CE (continuing education) and volunteer hours through the UCCE Volunteer Management System Program. It is encouraged to record regularly and not less than monthly.
  • Master Gardeners must be able to schedule time to be available for projects, effectively communicate with the public by phone, personal contact, and/or group contact, and through written language.
  • Master Gardeners must be dependable to show up and complete tasks.
  • All in-person activities for which hours are reported as Master Gardener time, will represent themselves as a Master Gardener wearing their name badge.
  • A UCCE Master Gardener will not use the UCCE Master Gardener title for commercial purposes or monetary gain.
  • Appointment is valid for a period of one year (July 1 – June 30). Annual reappointment requirements – fulfill required in-service and outreach commitment hours, signing of program documents and payment of the annual insurance (Insurance cost for 2021 was $6.25)
  • Follow UCCE policies and procedures.

Master Gardeners volunteer in various ways: Answering home gardening and pest management questions received by the Help Desk; service on public education activities sponsored by the MG program, including Zoom lectures, in-person lectures, demonstrations; contributing articles for our Coastal Gardener Newsletters; contributing pictures and articles for social media; Organizing and planning program activities; preparation of art work, posters, fliers, displays and educational materials; service on MG program committees; administrative and clerical work for the MG program; service setting up and/or cleaning up for MGP events, meetings and trainings.

The UCCE Master Gardener Program is a structured program with specific training requirements and time commitments from its volunteers. The UCCE MGP staff and MG volunteers organize to extend educational services to their communities. Intended UCCE MGP impacts can be categorized into four important areas:

  1. Healthier Plants
    1. Increased understanding of plant/people interaction.
    2. Appropriate selection, placement, and care of plants.
    3. Integrated pest-management practices.
  2. Healthier Environment
    1. Optimum water use.
    2. Improved soil quality.
    3. Reduced reliance on pesticides.
    4. Reduced green waste going to landfills.
  3. Healthier Gardeners
    1. More vegetables and fruits consumed.
    2. More positive gardening experiences.
    3. More new skills learned and recognized.
    4. More gardens in the community.
    5. Better health through gardening.
  4. Healthier Community
    1. More people gardening.
    2. More positive experiences.
    3. More group involvement.
    4. Improved communications skills.
    5. Improved cultural understanding.
  • Purpose - The purpose of the UCCE Master Gardeners of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties volunteers is to meet identified horticulture and pest management education needs of the residents in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. The certified MG volunteers provide an organized approach to addressing demands for information and problem-solving help from non-commercial clientele and focus on educational programs that address the Strategic Vision of UC ANR.
  • Core Values – Criteria for designing and implementing education activities and measuring educational impacts are based on the following core values:
    1. UCCE MGP activities focus on education, not service.
    2. UCCE programs provide information and teach practical and usable skills but do not provide garden labor or regular/scheduled consultant services. UCCE programs are neutral/unbiased toward specific commercial products, services, and support groups.  Instructors and volunteers may not solicit or perform contract services for personal gain while representing UCCE.
    3. Activities meet identified Strategic Vision Initiatives and clientele needs. Our program targets Humboldt and Del Norte County adult home gardeners. Some MG volunteers also work with community and school youth (garden based learning activities) mainly through adult leaders and teachers in gardening activities, while others work cooperatively with UCCE 4-H Youth Development Program and volunteers.
    4. MG volunteers are guides to learning and respect other’s viewpoints and abilities. Our volunteers respond to a range of individual learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds. UCCE teaching staff provides appropriate available information while respecting alternative viewpoints.  UCCE teachers are guides to learning.  They present horticulture technology and appropriate garden management information, including multiple options to solving local garden problems. In this way UCCE helps clientele make more informed garden management decisions.
    5. Educational activities inclusive, not exclusive. UCCE Program methods and content are evaluated to assure information is not exclusively held and that programs are available to the gardening public on an equal opportunity basis in accordance with UC and Federal affirmative action/diversity policies, limited only by our resources.
    6. MG volunteers extend only researched-based and technically accurate information. UCCE programs extend information based on recognized university research that flows through the Cooperative Extension educational system. MG volunteers provide information with honesty and to the best of their ability and refer more complex queries to more qualified UCCE employees. Problem-solving options are discussed, but specific recommendations are not given.
    7. MG volunteers encourage improved environmental quality and sustainable gardening practices. Environmental issues are key to many UCCE educational priorities, including support for improved environmental quality and wise resource management.
    8. MG volunteers emphasize “learn-by-doing” methods. UCCE teaching methods emphasize the hands-on demonstration and provide an opportunity for clientele to practice new skills.
    9. MG volunteers teach new skills, validate achievement, and encourage extending to others. UCCE programs recognize new skills learned. Appropriate methods are used to teach improved gardening skills, build individual confidence, and encourage application of new skills.  Further, clientele are encouraged to share new insights and skills with family, friends, and neighbors.
    10. Activities build community support for UCCE through improved visibility. UCCE educational activities feature appropriate, accurate information, packaged, and advertised by UCCE for local clientele consumption. All UCCE programs, information, and activities are readily identifiable as products of UCCE. MG volunteers dress appropriately to their role and wear identifying name badges.  All distributed information is identified with the UCCE official name and address and encourage additional contacts. MG volunteers communicate about the range of local UCCE programs offered and invite further contact.