Master Gardener logo, 800x400 in yellow & green

Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Master Gardeners

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.

Here in Chemung County, this program is part of our community horticulture outreach activity, with volunteers educating home gardeners, youth in schools and after school programs, community gardeners, and consumers of horticulture products. Neighbors teach neighbors about landscape, fruit, vegetables, herbs, beneficial and harmful insects, plant diseases, integrated pest management, wildlife, soils, composting and much more.

For information on Master Gardener programs outside of Chemung County, please visit the New York State Master Gardener Program website.

Who Becomes a Master Gardener?

Master Gardeners enjoy people and plants. They usually have no professional gardening or landscaping experience, only a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge, and sufficient free time to volunteer in Master Gardener activities.

We are looking for individuals who have communication skills and are interested in teaching others about horticulture topics. The program is flexible to allow diverse program participation. Those willing to volunteer their time sharing gardening information would meet the goal of the community horticulture program in Chemung County.

About twenty-five local Master Gardeners now answer Garden Hotline questions, write articles about gardening for the local paer, help students with school gardens, and participate in public events related to gardening. CCE staff members train master gardener volunteers in the science and art of gardening. And Chemung County master gardeners are part of the nationwide education program.

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 form, and have a short interview with members of our horticulture staff.

Master Gardener Training 

The 2023-2024 Training Program is in progress.  Check back for future training dates. 

You can learn more about the topics that are covered in the training by visiting the NY State Master Gardener Volunteer Program pages on the Cornell University website.


Jackie Spencer
Community and Economic Vitality Resource Educator

Last updated January 8, 2024