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What is a Master Gardener?

By February 28, 2021Beet 2021 03 March

By Ronnie Budge

Master Gardner 2011

The mission of the Master Gardener Program in Oregon is: Cultivating resilient and healthy communities through sustainable horticulture education and gardening projects that are rooted in science and that are supported by Oregon State University Extension volunteers.

To become a certified Master Gardener in Oregon (as of 2021), one must complete a prescribed course of study, pass an exam, and perform 40 hours of volunteer service, 20 hours of which must be in direct or indirect education. 

Once a Master Gardener, always a Master Gardener; however, if one wishes to continue educating the public on behalf of the Master Gardener Program, one must be recertified annually. Currently in Oregon, 30 hours of volunteer time are required for recertification each year, of which at least 10 hours must be used for educating others (either directly, e.g., teaching a workshop, or indirectly, e.g., helping to plan an education event); at least 10 more hours providing any approved volunteer service (e.g., helping with a fundraising event); and at least 10 hours for one’s own continuing education (e.g., attending a webinar/talk).

To be a member of the Jackson County Master Gardener Association, one must be a certified Master Gardener. But it is not necessary to be recertified annually to belong to JCMGA, nor is it necessary to be recertified to perform volunteer work which does not involve educating the public. “Support” tasks, e.g., helping to maintain a demonstration garden, fundraising, or being an officer in JCMGA, do not require recertification.

All volunteer work, whether providing direct or indirect education or giving other support to the Master Gardener Program, should be reported, preferably using the online Volunteer Reporting System. The Master Gardener Coordinator Erika Szonntag uses this information to recertify volunteers and help justify annual budgets. Email Erika or call her at 541-776-7371 with any questions related to the VRS or volunteer hours.

More information on volunteer service, including necessary forms and a link to the reporting tool, are here.