They develop their horticultural expertise through participation in educational programs conducted by Penn State University Faculty and Extension Staff. Faculty and Extension educators also provide diagnostic support for horticultural issues and questions to Master Gardener volunteers actively participating in the program.
Extension publications, teaching materials, and other program support materials are provided as deemed appropriate by faculty and county extension staff responsible for leading and supervising the Master Gardener program. Information presented by Master Gardeners must be consistent with Penn State Extension recommendations concerning various aspects of consumer horticulture.
What are the qualifications for Master Gardeners?
- Strong interest and knowledge in horticulture as evidenced by scoring a minimum of 80% on a final exam administered by Penn State Extension.
- Willingness and availability to undertake extensive training in horticulture.
- Dedication and willingness to perform the required hours of volunteer service for Penn State Extension.
- Ability to communicate in an effective, diplomatic and professional manner with others by telephone, personal contact, group contact, and in writing.
- Willingness to support Penn State Extension staff in providing Extension audiences with unbiased, research-based consumer horticulture information.
What are the Master Gardener Training Requirements?
Master Gardener Trainees are required to participate in a minimum of thirty-six (36) hours of training. Each trainee is expected to attend all core classes. Any missed sessions must be made up through arrangements with supervising Extension staff members. In addition, supervising Extension staff may require trainees to participate in training focused on locally relevant topics.
Core Classes: 36 hours (Required in all counties)
- Master Gardener Program Orientation
- IPM & Pesticide Safety
- Soils & Composting
- Woody Ornamentals
Additional Classes (Topics may vary by county)
- Garden Animals & Wildlife
- Gardening Equipment, Fitness, & Safety
- Herbaceous Plants
- Household Pests
- Indoor Plants
- Landscape Design
- Native Plants
- Tree & Small Fruit
- Weeds & Invasive Plants
Sustainable gardening concepts and practices are included as an integrated component throughout basic training.
What are the Master Gardener Volunteer Service Requirements?
To obtain certification as a Penn State Master Gardener, each trainee must complete the following requirements within a period of one (1) year from successful completion of basic training:
- Pass the final examination administered on-site with a minimum score of 80%.
- Complete any county-required volunteer orientation activities.
- Fulfill the 50-hour volunteer service commitment.
Upon successful completion, the trainee is awarded a Penn State Master Gardener certificate. Master Gardener certification is restrictive in that it is valid only while the individual is participating in the Penn State Master Gardener program. Certification in subsequent years is issued only to an individual who makes a commitment for participation in the program for the coming year as outlined below. When an individual ceases active participation in the program, his or her designation as a Penn State Master Gardener becomes void.
How is Certification Maintained in Subsequent Years?
A Penn State Master Gardener must recertify annually by following these guidelines:
- Commit to a minimum of twenty (20) hours of volunteer service to be completed each year
- Complete eight (8) hours of additional horticulture training each year
Note: Hours beyond the minimum requirement for annual volunteer service and annual horticulture update training may not be carried over to the following year.
How Do I Join the Master Gardener Volunteer Service
Master Gardener Application
MG Application 7-13-1.pdf — PDF document, 236 kB (242580 bytes)