Master Gardener Steven Jakobi at Alfred Farmers Market


Soil Clinic in Cuba NY by MGVs Carol Sitarski and Deb Bigelow

Master Gardeners at Wlsv pH Radio Clinic
Image by Terry Haas

Master Gardeners at Wellsville pH Radio Clinic

Allegany Master Gardener's Dave Chamberlain and Carol Starski at Cuba Garlic festival

Allegany Master Gardener's Dave Chamberlain and Carol Starski at Cuba Garlic Festival

Master Gardener Deb Bigelow, teaching a gardening class.
Image by Colleen Cavagna

Master Gardener, Deb Bigelow

Master Gardener Program

What is the Master Gardener Program?

The Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to expand educational outreach throughout the community by providing home gardeners with research-based information.

The first Master Gardener program was started in Washington state in 1972. Forty-six states now have Master Gardener programs. For information on Master Gardener programs, visit the New York State Master Gardener Program website.

Who Becomes a Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV)?

Master Gardeners love plants and enjoy teaching other people about it. Some MGVs have professional gardening or landscaping experience, some of them have this education and knowledge, and something have in common is a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge, and sufficient free time to volunteer in Master Gardener activities.

If you are an experienced gardener, or just starting in this beautiful world of gardening, you can become a Master Gardener Volunteer taking our CCE Master Gardener Volunteer Training.

Qualification for Trainees

Master Gardener trainees should have a basic knowledge of, or interest in, gardening; enthusiasm for acquiring and sharing horticultural knowledge and skills; good communications skills; and a willingness and free time to participate in volunteer educational activities.

Volunteers complete a brief written application, and have a short interview with members of our horticulture staff.  Priority for selection is given to our county residents.

Master Gardener Training

Master Gardener training is held in alternate years. Trainees receive instruction from experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension and elsewhere on a broad spectrum of subjects applicable to home gardening, such as plant nutrition, soils, vegetable and fruit culture, trees, shrubs and lawns, diseases and insects that affect plants, pruning, and much more. After this instruction, trainees complete an examination and are certified as Master Gardener Volunteers. Advanced instruction is offered, and special seminars and refresher workshops are held so that Master Gardeners can stay current on gardening topics and keep their knowledge up-to-date.

Volunteer Commitment

Each Master Gardener trainee commits to give back to the community an additional 60 hours of service over a one year time period following certification for a total of 120 hours altogether (training + volunteer time). After that, you can be as involved with the program as you would like to be. Some Master Gardeners have volunteered for many years and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow gardeners, monthly meetings, holiday gatherings, and group field trips to visit beautiful and unique gardens in our region that also are part of the program.

To fulfill their volunteer time commitment, Master Gardeners can be performing activities, such as testing soil samples for pH, answering gardening questions by email or phone, teaching gardening classes, organizing and running clinics and events, being present in farmer markets and local events, writing gardening articles for publication, speaking or demonstrating to groups, recording videos or podcast about gardening, and working with local organizations to provide gardening education. New program initiatives are always welcomed!

Current Master Gardener Program

We have had this program for a number of years, and it is a very successful program. Right now, we have approximately 14 active Master Gardener volunteers who do a number of different things in the county. It is a very popular program and we normally have more than enough applicants to fill the training program every two years.

What are Master Gardeners doing in our area?

Our Master Gardeners are involved in many activities. Here are some of them:

  • Testing soil samples brought into the Cooperative Extension office
  • Maintaining Cooperative Extension gardening information files
  • Answering gardening questions phoned or e-mailed into the Cooperative Extension office
  • Arranging public workshops on gardening with perennials, annuals, vegetables, and other topics
  • Organizing the annual Gardening Day
  • Writing articles for publication

How to become a Master Gardener Volunteer?

For our 2023 MGV training: Registration starts on September 1st, 2023 to September 30th. Enrollment process October to November 2023, training starts at the end of November 2023 to March 2024.

If you're interested in becoming a MGV, follow these steps:

  1. Watch this video to learn more about this program:

2.  Fill out the registration form, for online form click HERE. For printed form, click HERE  and download the registration form, fill out by hand and send by mail to Cristian Acosta-MGV Coordinator, to 5435A County Road 48 Belmont, NY 14813. 

3. Once the registration period ends we will contact you for the next steps! 

Fee: Cost of the program for this 2023-2024 MGV training: $250, and you'll get a $100 refund after your first year of volunteering. 

Note: if you want to participate in this volunteer program and can't afford this payment, please contact Cristian Acosta at for payment methods and scholarships (if available). 

Learn more about this wonderful program here:


Cristian Acosta
Agriculture Educator - Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
585-268-7644 ext 14

Last updated December 20, 2023