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 to the home gardener and general public.
Who can be a Master Gardener?
Any Merced County adult resident with an interest in horticulture (plants, lawns, trees, vegetables and more) and public service are encouraged to apply for the Master Gardener Program.
Other requirements include time to complete the training and, upon certification, time to volunteer your knowledge with the community. A passion for gardening, curiosity, good communication skills to a diverse group of people and a desire for continued education also are valued traits of a Master Gardener.
What is the training program?
In 2022, the training classes will be held every other Saturday starting on January 8, 2022 with graduation on April 9th. In the in-between weeks, trainees will have self-pace assigned on-line topics and readings with small group/mentor support. While in training, students are assigned a Master Gardener mentor who will support and assist students throughout the program.
Instructors are University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisers, 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. The class includes lots of hands-on opportunities as well as field trips. Completion of the coursework, an oral presentation 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 once expenses for the upcoming program have been determined. For reference, the 2020 class fee was $200. The fee covers all books, supplies, equipment and field trips. Some assistance to cover books may be available.
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 volunteer hours each year to stay active. Most volunteer hours are completed in projects with other Master Gardeners. 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, at Master Gardener conferences 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 schools; 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 and celebrated our 10-year anniversary in 2019!
Merced Master Gardeners are advised and supported by Scott Stoddard, County Director/Farm Advisor Merced County; Maxwell Norton, Master Gardener Coordinator for Merced County; and Jay Hawkes, Master Garden President.
If this sounds like a good time…
We welcome new volunteers!
September 18, 2021 at 1:30 PM and September 25, 2021 at 9:00 AM. Both sessions will be held at the UCCE Office, 2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced.
If you are considering applying for the 2022 program, we encourage you to attend one of our information sessions.
In the summer of 2021, a link to the application form will be provided here. At that time, the cost of the course will be announced.
Training classes held at: UCCE Merced County Office, 2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced
Questions? Call us at 385-7403 or email us: email@example.com