If you enjoy being a volunteer educator, want to share both your passion for gardening and providing science-based environmentally sound horticulture knowledge with others, and have time to volunteer – you should consider becoming an Extension Master Gardener!
The Albemarle-Charlottesville unit of Virginia Cooperative Extension trains a new group of Extension Master Gardeners every year. Applications for the 2021 class are being accepted anytime from now until November 1st, 2020. The training classes will be held online using Zoom on Thursday evenings starting January 21st to April 29th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. This also includes four outdoor workshops on select Saturdays: from 10:00 am to noon on February 20th and March 6th, and 9:00 am to noon on April 17th and May 8th.
The training course includes 55 hours of instruction taught by experts in various gardening areas such as soil, botany, integrated pest management, disease diagnosis, and more. For 2021, our classes will be held in combination with our neighbors in Greene, Madison, Orange, Culpeper, and Fluvanna counties. While going through the course, each trainee has an Extension Master Gardener as a mentor.
Trainees are expected to complete an exam at the end of the course, and afterwards, as new interns, complete 50 hours of volunteer project service within one year. Once completed, interns then become certified Extension Master Gardeners. Afterwards, they are then expected to give at least 20 hours of volunteer project service plus complete 8 hours of approved continuing education each year to remain active. Extension Master Gardeners must educate the public using science-based and research-based recommendations of VCE and may not use the Extension Master Gardener designation to promote commercial horticulture services.
The deadline for applying for the 2021 Training Course is November 1, 2020. The 2021 application packets may be downloaded here. Three orientation sessions will be publicized and held via Zoom in October for prospective applicants. For more details on these sessions, see our informational flyer here. VCE also requires a background check once an application is submitted. The training course costs $190, with need-based scholarships available by request.