How To Become A Master Gardener
University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners are volunteers who extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of California. In Orange County the next volunteer training class will start in November 2023 and finish in May 2024.
What do UCCE Master Gardeners do?
University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners are volunteers 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:
- Food gardening
- Growing annuals, perennials and woody ornamental plants
- Selecting and caring for fruit and landscape trees
- Integrated Pest Management (insect and pest control)
- Soils, fertilizers and irrigation
- Plant pathology
- Composting and vermiculture
- Weed control
- Plant problem diagnosis
- Water quality and conservation
Master Gardeners work in their community by volunteering for activities and projects such as:
- Teaching workshops, or lecturing on gardening practices
- Answering gardeners’ questions via email through our Gardening Hotline
- Using mass media to disseminate gardening information
- Speaking to the public on horticultural/gardening topics
- Staffing information booths at various venues
- Participating in research activities with academics within UC
- Designing, planting and maintaining demonstration gardens
- 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
Who are Master Gardener candidates?
Master Gardener candidates are adults of all ages and come from all walks of life.
We are looking for people who
- live in Orange County
- have a basic knowledge of gardening
- have a desire to volunteer in their community to share what they learn about gardening
- have an interest in increasing their horticultural knowledge and skills
The UC Master Gardener program is administered by individual county UC Agriculture & Natural Resources Cooperative Extension offices. If you do not live in Orange County, you can use this link to find the program in your area.
If you are currently a Master Gardener in another state, have recently moved to California and would like to transfer to the program here, please contact the Program Coordinator directly. See our Contact Us page for details.
Where and when will the Master Gardener volunteer training classes be held?
Classes will be conducted in-person at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine with an option to attend via Zoom if needed. There will be an Orientation on November 16, 2023. Weekly classes will start January 11, 2024 and run until mid-May. All sessions will be on Thursday mornings and early afternoons. If you have other commitments on November 16th or during the 2024 weekly dates that require more than one absence, we ask that you wait to apply in the future. After training Master Gardeners are required to complete minimum volunteer and continuing education hours each year.
How do you apply to be considered for the Master Gardener volunteer training classes?
Due to classroom size restrictions, we accept a limited number of applicants. Every year more people apply than we can accommodate. To receive an application to be considered for the 2024 Master Gardeners Training program, potentialapplicants are required to attend ONE of the following Information Day sessions on September 7, 2023:
In-person at 10:00 – 11:00 am at UC South Coast Research & Extension Center, 7601 Irvine Blvd, Irvine, 92618
On Zoom at 6:00 – 7:00 pm. Register with this link: https://ucanr.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEudO-rqDgjGN0zbAfFdbZ9nLH0lqx4jlcP
If the schedule for the upcoming class is not feasible for you, and you would like to express interest in our next UC Master Gardener volunteer training class, please revisit this webpage after September 7, 2023 and click on the "Open Survey" link below. Completing the online form will put you on a list that we will contact when we have details about the next class.