If you enjoy being a volunteer educator, want to share your passion for gardening and provide science-based environmentally sound horticulture knowledge with others, and have time to volunteer – you should consider becoming an Extension Master Gardener! To learn more about the Training Program including the topics we cover, the projects we support and what it means to volunteer, click here.

Training Program

The Albemarle-Charlottesville unit of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) trains a new group of Extension Master Gardeners every year. The training course includes approximately 70 hours of instruction taught by experts in various gardening areas such as soil, botany, integrated pest management, disease diagnosis, and more. The upcoming 2023 program will take place from mid-January through April and will be offered as a hybrid course with online evening training interspersed with in person hands on workshops. In alternating years, the course will be offered with full in person instruction. Each trainee will have an Extension Master Gardener as a mentor who is available to provide support during class and throughout internship.


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.


Applications for the 2023 training class are due November 15, 2022 and may be obtained by contacting Trisha Costello, Master Gardener program coordinator, at tcostello@vt.edu. VCE requires a background check once an application is submitted. The training course costs $190, with need-based scholarships available by request.