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What is the Alabama Master Gardener program?

The Master Gardener program represents an effective partnership between the land grant universities of this state, Alabama Extension agents, and motivated volunteers.  

The concept of the Master Gardener volunteer program began at Washington State University. In Alabama, it began in 1981 with Extension agent Gary Murray and Mary Lou McNabb, a Cornell Extension Master Gardener, who moved to Huntsville. 

Who are Alabama Master Gardener volunteers?

They are Extension-trained volunteers who connect Alabamians to gardening information and educational opportunities. Master Gardener volunteers have completed a 50-hour horticulture training course and contribute their time and expertise as volunteers to various community projects. 

Become a Master Gardener Volunteer

Do you love plants? Do you love to volunteer your time? Then you are a great candidate for Master Gardener Intern Training! You do not have to be a garden expert—simply come with a desire to learn and grow.

Important Dates

Application Period

  • Spring Session: Nov. 1 – 30
  • Fall Session: June 1 – 30  

Class Dates in 2023

  • Spring Session: Feb. 2 – May 11 
  • Fall Session: Aug. 10 – Nov. 9

Master Gardener Course Information

The Alabama Master Gardener Course is taught by Extension agents and specialists. Classes include research-based gardening information on topics such as home lawns, trees, shrubs, annual and perennial flowers, and vegetable gardening. 

Master Gardener and Garden-U Class Schedule

DateClassLive Review (Hosted on Zoom)
Jan. 30 - Feb. 3Training and Introduction CourseLive Class Feb. 2 from 10:30 - 11 a.m.
Feb. 6 - 10Soil and Plant NutritionInteractive Q & A Feb. 9 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 13 - 17Basic BotanyInteractive Q & A Feb. 16 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 20 - 24IPMInteractive Q & A Feb. 23 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 27 - March 3Plant DiseasesInteractive Q & A March 2 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
March 6 - 10Beneficial and Pest InsectsInteractive Q & A March 9 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
March 13 - 17Plant Care and ManagementInteractive Q & A March 16 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
March 20 - 24Catch Up WeekCatch Up Week
March 27 - 31VegetablesInteractive Q & A March 30 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
April 3 - 7 FruitInteractive Q & A April 6 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
April 10 - 14Woody OrnamentalsInteractive Q & A April 13 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
April 17 - 21 Annuals and PerennialsInteractive Q & A April 20 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
April 24 - 28Home LawnsInteractive Q & A April 27 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
May 1 - 5Landscape DesignInteractive Q & A May 4 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
May 8 - 12Communication SkillsInteractive Q & A May 11 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
by May 30Final Exam / Post TestFinal Exam / Post Test

This is a hybrid course, meaning it is designed to integrate online and face-to-face learning activities to reinforce learning. Face-to-face sessions are hosted locally. Find out when your county, or a county near you, is hosting Master Gardener training. Not all counties are hosting training, travel may be required.  

An online application and a background check must be submitted by the deadlines to participate in the course. The spring course fee is $150. 

How to Apply for Spring 2023 

Step 1: Contact Your County Extension Office and Declare Your Intent to Become a Master Gardener Volunteer

  • Use the Alabama Extension directory to find your county Extension office.
  • Not interested in becoming a volunteer? Follow the link to learn more about our Garden-U Program

Step 2: Apply Online

  • Fill out the online application before November 30, 2022 to participate in the Spring session.

Step 3: Enroll in Canvas (Auburn University’s online learning platform)

  • Enroll in Canvas and pay the course fee of $150 before November 30, 2022.
  • A background check is required to participate in the course. Submit a background check before January 23, 2023. 

Step 4: Complete the Master Gardener Training Course

  • Complete the online course materials over a 14-week period.
  • Attend your local in-person sessions through a local county office.
  • Receive the Master Gardener intern certificate upon completion of training.

Step 5: Volunteer Requirements

  • Complete 50 volunteer hours in your community by the end of the next calendar year.  

Step 6: Get Involved

  • Once certified, Master Gardeners remain active members by contributing 25 hours of volunteer service and completing 10 hours of continuing education hours annually. 

More Information

Not interested in volunteering? Unable to travel? Interested in research-based gardening? Register for the Extension horticulture training course as a Garden-U participant and receive a certificate upon completion of the training. Note that because there is no volunteer commitment, Garden-U participants do not become Alabama Master Gardeners. Learn more about Garden-U.

To troubleshoot issues with registration, contact your county Extension office. For additional assistance, contact Emily Bornstein.

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