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A love of gardening, a search for knowledge and a desire to share that knowledge with others is central to why people join the Master Gardener program. They remain Master Gardeners to enjoy the friendship of others who share their interests, to gain and share research-based horticultural knowledge and to give back to the community through their volunteer commitment.
If combining your passion for people and plants sounds appealing, you may be a good Master Gardener candidate. A formal education in horticulture isn't necessary--we will provide the training and resources to help you teach others. There are five steps to becoming a Master Gardener - each step is described in more detail below.
To become a University of Minnesota Master Gardener in Benton County, you must first apply and be accepted into the program. The application process starts early - we begin sending out applications in August for the January training.
You agree to volunteer service in exchange for training from the University of Minnesota. You also agree to participate in Master Gardener meetings in your county, where you receive continuing education and learn about new projects and other volunteer opportunities.
Training is held each year in the St. Paul, Pine City, and Mankato in January and February. The training is also available as an extended online course from January-May. The course is taught by Extension faculty, and a textbook and mini-reference library are provided to each participant. For more information about the Core Course training, including times, locations, fees, and specific course content, visit the Minnesota Master Gardener page.
Following completion of Core Course Training, Master Gardener interns are required to do 50 hours of volunteer work and 8 hours of continuing education during their internship year. We make an effort to ensure that our new interns are placed with other, more seasoned volunteers and we assign a mentor to each new intern. So whether you volunteer at an "Ask a Master Gardener" event, the Diagnostic Clinic or another event, you'll be with knowledgeable, helpful people who will make sure you're not on your own. You'll have fun--and you will learn a lot!
You'll receive a certificate and name badge designating you as a Master Gardener once you have completed the Core Course and fulfilled your internship requirements.
Once certified, Master Gardeners in Benton County must volunteer a minimum of 25 hours and receive at least 12 hours of approved continuing education each year in order to maintain their certification.
After you are certified, you are eligible to attend other training programs and workshops. These courses offer more technical information. Advanced training opportunities include:
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