How To Become A Master Gardener
How does someone become an Orange County Master Gardener?
Information Day sessions are held every other year. The purpose of Information Day is to familiarize potential applicants with the Master Gardener Program, its opportunities and obligations, and to outline the requirements for the Master Gardener classes.
The next Information Day sessions are scheduled for:
- Thursday, August 18, 2016 10:00-11:30 a.m.
- Thursday, September 8, 2016 10:00-11:30 a.m.
- Location: Orange County Great Park, 6990 Marine Way, Irvine, CA 92618, USA. Orange County Great Park - alternate route due to construction: http://www.cityofirvine.org/news-media/news-article/take-alternate-entrance-great-park-summer
- It is not necessary to RSVP in order to attend either session
To receive an application for consideration into the Master Gardener Program it is necessary to attend one of the above mentioned sessions. Sessions will start promptly at 10:00 so please be on time and plan to remain until the conclusion if you would like to receive an application.
In the meantime, we welcome you to attend some of the events listed on our public website to learn more about what we do as Master Gardener volunteers.
New Master Gardeners in Training are chosen from a pool of applicants each Fall. The first meeting of those selected for entry into the Program will take place on November 3, 2016 for orientation and other administrative activities. Attendance at this session is mandatory. Instructional classes begin on January 5, 2017 and will continue through April, 2017. If you have other commitments during the instructional training period that requires more than one absence, we ask that you attend an Information Day session another year to receive an application when your schedule is open to meeting our rigorous schedule.
The Master Gardeners in Training attend 50+ hours of classes consisting of lectures and demonstrations conducted by experts in their fields.
First year Master Gardeners must complete at least 50 hours of volunteer service to the community. To retain their certification Master Gardeners must complete at least 25 hours of volunteer service to the community and participate in at least 12 hours of continuing education each year.
Classes are held at the South Coast Research & Extension Center in Irvine, California.
Please Note: Attendance is mandatory for all Master Gardener in training classes. Classes meet for 16 Thursdays (approximately 9 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Master Gardeners in Training are allowed one absence. Training may include an occasional field trip. More than one absence may result in dismissal from the program.
Who are Master Gardener candidates?
Master Gardener candidates are all ages and come from all walks of life. They have:
- A basic knowledge of landscape and food gardening
- An interest in increasing their horticultural knowledge and skills
- A desire to volunteer in their community to share what they have learned and teach gardening skills
- A resident of Orange County, California
What do Master Gardeners do?
Master Gardeners are trained to help residents of Orange County become better gardeners. Using a variety of activities such as workshops, lectures, and a garden hotline, these volunteers answer questions about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and integrated pest management using University of California research-based information.
After their training Master Gardeners are qualified to help the public with problems in areas such as:
- Weed control
- Plant problem diagnosis
- Integrated Pest Management (insect and pest control)
- Soils, fertilizers and irrigation
- Selecting and caring for fruit and landscape trees
- Growing annuals, perennials and food crops
- Vegetable gardening
- Plant pathology
- Soils and composting
- Water quality and conservation
Master Gardeners work in their community by volunteering for activities and projects such as:
- Designing, planting and maintaining demonstration gardens
- Using mass media to disseminate gardening information
- Teaching workshops, or lecturing on gardening practices
- Participating in research activities with academics within UC
- Answering gardeners’ questions via email or helplines
- Speaking to the public on horticultural/gardening topics
- Manning county fair information booths
- Consulting with gardeners with the goal of improving their landscape practices
- Educating and guiding parents and teachers in gardening practices in support of school gardens
If you have any questions about the Orange County Master Gardener Program that have not been answered here, please fill out the form below and we'll get back to you as quickly as possible.