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AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Do you have a wealth of gardening expertise that you are itching to share with others? Do you want to learn more and become involved in community projects? The Alabama Extension Master Gardeners Volunteer Program is perfect for you! Through this program, volunteers work with Alabama Cooperative Extension System professionals to bring the latest gardening information to their communities.

The Three Rs of Master Gardeners

There are three Rs of Extension Master Gardeners: reliable, relevant and reachable. Kerry Smith, the Master Gardeners Program state coordinator, said this group of hard-working volunteers is motivated by their passion for sharing all things horticulture.

“Our gardening advice and programs are science-based and timely,” Smith said. “These volunteers are also easily accessible. By calling our helpline at (877) 252-4769, people can connect with a volunteer who is ready to answer their questions.”

master gardener helpline

Becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer

Before a volunteer can be certified as a Master Gardener, individuals must participate in a series of trainings as an “intern.” These trainings include 50 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction.

“While 50 hours may seem like a lot, it is critical that our volunteers prepare to support local gardening projects and priorities,” Smith said.

These classes cover topics related to home lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetable gardening and more. The program offers classes both in-person and virtually. Interns may attend in-person classes in any of the hosting counties regardless of their residence.

Enrollment for the 2022 spring training series is open until Jan. 23. Trainings will begin Feb. 3. Registration for the trainings is completed online through the Alabama Extension Master Gardeners Volunteer Program webpage at www.aces.edu.

A registration fee is necessary to start the training, and people must have a background check to volunteer. Fifty hours of volunteer hours rounds out the certification.

There is a limit on the number of volunteer applications that counties can accept each training session. If your county is already at capacity, be sure to check back in the summer to sign up for the fall training session.

I am a certified volunteer. Now what?

Once someone reaches Master Gardener certification, they must report 25 hours of volunteer service annually. There are many opportunities for people to accumulate these needed hours.

“We have a variety of projects, from volunteering with the helpline to workshops, demonstration gardens, library programs, school gardens and more,” Smith said.

More Information

For more information on becoming an Extension Master Gardener volunteer, contact your county Extension office or visit the Alabama Extension website www.aces.edu.

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