How many annual hours?

luvmyducks(z5 ME)August 27, 2004

I was wondering what other MG programs around the country require for annual volunteer hours. Here in Cumberland County, Maine it's 20 per year.

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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

There has been an on-going discussion regarding the requirements of Master Gardener Organizations and how those requirements vary not only from state to state but from county to county.

In Texas the "training program" offers a minimum of 50 hours of instruction that covers topics including lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease, and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production; garden flowers; and water conservation. The training is offered at various times during the year at various locations across the state. Check with your County Extension office for specific locations, dates, and times

After training, to become "certified", the requirements vary from county to county also. In Aransas County, the MG associate must complete 50 hours of volunteer work within the first year with 25 hours of it being spent at our demonstration gardens.

For "continued certification", our county requires a mandatory 20 hours volunteer and 12 hours continuing education. There are no requirements as to where we can do our work as long as everything is legitimate, i.e. we can't go work and get paid and then claim the hours as volunteer hours. However, my friend that is a MG in another Texas county has different requirements for continued certification. The State level states that "participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed the training course and fulfilled their volunteer commitment. "

In Aransas County, we follow the requirements set out by Texas A&M (see web site: which was modified February 24, 2004.

Some counties require more class hours and more and different types of volunteer hours.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 4:51PM
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country_lawyer_vu(m Tn z6b or 7)

When I went through the program several years ago there was no mention of hours beyond those for certification. I understand that Tennessee is working on a continnuing certification.

This cuts to what a MG is suppose to be. I am unhappy that we do all these projects but spend little time in encouraging people who want to garden or teaching those who need food and beauty how to do it

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 8:18PM
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jpgardener(z7 NY)

Through Rudgers Extension in Ocean County NJ, master gardeners are required to 'intern' for 75 hours in order to be eligible for graduation.

Of the 75 required hours, 40 must be spent in the 'big three'...helpline, diagnostics, and the tick lab; 5 hours are required in the field or at the county park where we have a large spread including vegetable gardens, flower gardens and a hot house where we grow our own 'stuff'.
The balance of the required 75 hrs. can be spent in a catagory classified as 'other'...this is where some gardeners have their coffee clotches and work hard at politicing. Excuse the cynicism, after all gardeners are supposed to be social beings. Right?


    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 8:37PM
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Shelby county Tennessee: 40 volunteer hours! Very difficult for a working mom of two, so I dropped out....

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 9:30PM
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neighbor1(z5 IN)

33 classroom hours. 33 volunteer hours within a year here in Indiana thru Purdue Extension. I loved it and learned a lot.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 9:52PM
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janet_la(z8b Louisiana)

In Louisiana, our program was just revamped so that all Master Gardener groups in the state had the same requirements, and in our area, the requirements actually decreased. Now we only have to complete 20 hours of volunteer service and 6 hours of continuing education.

SissyZeke, I hear ya! My class graduated in November 2002, and we had to complete 60 hours by December 2003. I also work full time, but my kids are in college and don't require very much of my time anymore.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 9:57PM
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ssosew(z4 WI)

In Wisconsin we need a total of 24 hrs of garden/conservation community volunteer service work. Of those, 10 hrs need to be from continuing education opportunities.

I learned "enough to be dangerous" in my training six years ago and got involved with our local historical society's grounds as a volunteer. As the years have gone on, I have developed a "historical" garden of flowers grown at the end of the 19th century. Other master gardeners volunteer hours to help and the community and travelers get to enjoy the changing colors as the summer goes on.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 11:10PM
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In PA Master Gardeners are required to complete 50 hours after their classes to be official. Then the requirements are 20 hours of volunteer time and 8 hours of continuing education each year. It has been very difficult for the MGs in our county to get the continuing ed hours so an effort is being made this year to have classes more frequently and within a reasonable travel distance.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 11:11PM
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In Shelby County, we have to continue to serve 40 hours to maintain our Master Gardner status. Every year. I did it the first year, but my boss found it difficult to believe I absolutely had to have the day off to pull weeds at the Extension Office!!!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 12:27AM
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ymeador(Z7 CA)

Placer County, requires 50 VH after class and then 25 VH each year to recertify and 12 continuing education hrs each year also. Class of 1995.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 12:51AM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Interesting that every poster is from a different state. Here in Colorado the state requirement is the same for everyone and the counties are free to add hours if they need. We are also now certified for College credits form the MG course. It's the same as a 3-4 credit college course with 128 hours of instruction. After that is the initial 40 VH over the summer, 20 additional VH in your individual county to keep your certification, and 12 hrs continuing ed credits with 6 of those hours given by Colorado State University for a FEE AND a retest every 3 years. When they made the change a few years ago most of our MG's dropped in the first year. We are fairly rural and just the education credits were held in very far away places with many traveling an average of 50 miles one way. Yes, pretty tough for alot of folks.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 9:35AM
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pawleyscruser(z8 SC)

In South Carolina, the annual requirement is 40 hours; to my knowledge, there are no deviations by county, but certain "associations" (i.e., localized groups, such as "Grand Strand MGs", or "Conway MGs", or "North Myrtle Beach MGs") could impose other requirements. There are NO continuing education requirements, and that is a REAL shame!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 10:36AM
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marifl(10B Fl)

Collier County Fl is 50 hours of class and 50 hours of vollunteer. The 50 hours are required each year to stay a volunteer.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 11:54AM
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Here in s'west MO, it was 30 VH the first year after completing the course (classes start in January), and 20 hours minimum per year after that.

The hours are easily accumulated if you break them down into 2 to 4 hour spans. 2 Hours weeding one of the display gardens, an hour planting produce and then more hours harvesting and delivering to the food bank, a four shift to help man the MG booth at the county fair or lawn & garden show, etc. Look at it this way -- it only takes 10 dimes to make a dollar.

If any are feeling that 20, 30, even 40 hours is a lot of time, consider how much time you spend on GardenWeb. Just 10 minues a day equals 60 hours 50 minutes a year!!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 12:10PM
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Orange County California requires 50 hours the first year, after that it is 25.

The instruction is every saturday from 8:30 to 12, for six months. Then we take a final exam.

Orange County has two programs, teaching basically the same stuff and using the same Manual. One is offered through Fullerton College (the one I took) and the other is through University of California (but its only offered every two years... i didn't want to wait!)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 12:37PM
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In eastern Nebraska the requirement is 40 hours of classroom instruction ( 9 until 4 for seven Thursdays in the winter) and 40 hrs. of volunteer service following, 20 of those answering the phone at the local Extension office. The cost is $150. If you fulfill your 40 hrs. by Oct 30 you get a 40 dollar refund. For recertificaion the cost is $5. and the volunteer time is 10 hrs. of continuing education and 10 hrs. of service.
I was surprised to see how the requirements differ quite drastically throughout the states.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 3:46PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Wow, my class was 160 dollars and after the initial instruction, passing the exam, and 40 hours required VH you are not billed for the course. They tear up the promissory note.
I think that continuing education is useful however as an alternative a yearly test should be offered as well. Either do continuing ed classes or retake the test every year. If you pass fine and if not you must complete the continuing ed. But paying for classes that my tax dollars already go to and that I volunteer hours for is just plain wrong.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 4:55PM
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coffeemom(Broward z10)

Broward County Extension has you do 65 hrs (after your course) to become a MG and 20 hrs a yr to keep the title.They also asked for "good faith" money that was returned upon completion of your 65 hrs. It's a great incentive.
I agree with break it down, do what you can.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 8:11PM
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gardenfaerie(z5b Michigan)

In Washtenaw County, Michigan, the first year requires 40 total volunteer hours, of which 12 must be answering the county's gardening questions hotline. In subsequent years, one needs 15 volunteer hours and 5 educational hours.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 10:41PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hey there: Our system just changed so our hours are cumulative and are tied in with our ranking in the program. The classes are 51.5 hours with an additional 40 hours of volunteer work required. I know the cost went up due to the huge quantity of material handed out. You are considered an intern and are not certified until you have completed the VH. Actually the new requirements that conform to the state coordinators rules are less difficult than the ones we had before. I had about 350 pages of research I did for a project that let me skip a couple of levels to my surprise. Sandy

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 11:38PM
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Goodness, so many variations! Hi there, I'm a Marion County, Florida Master Gardener, thru the University of Florida. We attend 13 weeks of class from 9 to 4 once each week. Homework is a bear! Generally spent 15 to 20 hours a week on it, plus a newspaper article was required by the 10th week. We are required to volunteer 100 hours during the year, and to be truthful, I've forgotten how many cont ed hours are required. I know I have put in about 30 so far. But, volunteer hours are a combination of volunteer hours and cont. ed hours. Guess I need to find out how many hours need to be cont ed.

Since April I have average 65 hours per month. All volunteers are required to work phones. There are no minimum hours given though. Or if so, it's another thing that has dropped from my forgetful memory.

I've seen a fair number of people just from my class drop out after classes ended. You find what you enjoy and go with it. I like to write, so I joined the newspaper committee. Before I ever attended the first meeting I discovered there was no chairperson for the committee. So, suddenly I'm the chairperson.... hmmmm, don't ask me. I don't mind. I'll do it till I'd rather be doing something else, then I'll ask them to find another person. We do a lot of good things, we do some fairly stupid things and we all disagree on which is which. 8-) Just normal folks.
Glad to see this list. Poppy

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 9:18AM
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napapen(ca 15)

Napa County Ca. trains for 60 hrs and wants 60 hr back to be certified. Than annually it is 24 hrs volunteer and 12 hr continuing education.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 2:55PM
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In Androscoggin it's 80!!!Sheesh, I should have driven the extra 30 miles to Portland!>:-O

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 6:59PM
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luvmyducks(z5 ME)

Hi Dollmaker,
I know! I live in Androscoggin, but took the Cumberland Co. course because I could still work full time and do the program. It was still hard getting in the first year's 40 hours. The 20 hours every year afterwards have been pretty easy.
Best thing I ever did!!!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 8:48PM
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coffeemom(Broward z10)

Poppy, Broward is also thru the U of Florida. I wonder why the big difference in programs? I don't remember homework, but I loved the classes. Learned everything I was doing wrong!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 10:02PM
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gardencrazyinwa(PNW WA)

Here in Washington State you have to complete approx. 80 hrs. of training. The first year is 50 hrs and 10 hrs education. Every year after it is 35 hrs and 10 hrs. education.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 10:59PM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

Man, this is freakin' INCREDIBLE!!!

I had already learned of wide variations WITHIN South Carolina from a friend and fellow GW member who went through the program in the Midlands the same time I went through the Upstate program, but these variations seem to be just as wide from state to state, and within different areas of OTHER states, as well.

Looks like the Master Gardener Association of the Piedmont has about the lowest requirements of any of your programs, but then we also have a VERY active program, so maybe that makes up for it.

We have two classes each year, from October to March... 3 hours a day either afternoon or evening, for 17 weeks, with a limit of 30 in each class, and very few dropouts. Our only homework assignments were to do our weekly readings (which sometimes was close to 100 pages), but still... and we're required to do 40 hours of volunteer work to be certified, but that can begin week one, with the only limitation being that we can't answer questions in the Extension office until we've finished and passed the course.

I turned in 42 hours along with my final exam on exam day, and received my certification at graduation ceremonies. We have NO recertification requirements beyond that except to pay an annual $10 fee. And folks have as many years as they wish to do those initial 40 hours... you could finish the course in 2003, like I did, and turn in your 40th hour in 2006 and still get certified then!

On the OTHER hand, our group is active enough with its food-growing programs for other non-profit groups that we won a national award for it the year before I became involved.

Last couple of years haven't done quite as well, due to weather and other things... but our group isn't run through the Extension service -- it's totally separate, except that it's under the "auspices" of the Clemson Extension Service.

In all other parts of the state, however, the programs ARE run through the extension service and often offer only day classes because their MAIN volunteer program is getting folks to answer phones at the local extension office, thereby making the budget-cutting politicians happy, since normally PAID work is being done by volunteers. They have NO community gardens they maintain to grow food for the hungry, and so forth.

So our program may be EASIER on the master gardeners, but perhaps it's better for the community?

This is an interesting debate, and I figure that eventually it will become a real controversy and things will become standardized all over.

By the way, I continue to volunteer, and even led tours at our local public garden (not affiliated with the program, but where I earned a lot of my volunteer hours), in an electric scooter while I was recovering from a broken ankle earlier this year.

However many do no hours beyond their initial 40, and I know some do none at all, and just take the class for the info. I feel they're cheaters.

By the way, my friend in the Midlands couldn't start her volunteer hours until after class finished because all they get to do is work for the extension office, too... and oh yeah, her final exam was closed-book and notes... ours was open-book and notes.

That's another debate, but our program directors said they didn't care how we got the information, as long as we knew how to get it and how to apply it.

Makes sense to me,

    Bookmark   August 30, 2004 at 3:46AM
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poppy, that is one heck of a lot of hours and homework! We had no homework but I read ahead at home just because it was so interesting and we had an open book test. None of us completed it in the time given so we got to finish it at home and mail it to the instructor.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2004 at 2:17PM
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kimmienflorida(Z 8 Tallahassee)

Interesting subject. The following is what my MG program requires in Tallahassee (Leon County) which is also through the U of FL:

Important Points about the UF-IFAS

Leon County Extension Master Gardener Program

The Master Gardener Training Program will teach you a tremendous amount about gardening in the north Florida area. But, you need to realize; it's a yearlong commitment. It's not over after the introductory classes. The basic training, step 1, prepares you to be a volunteer who will help the UF-IFAS Leon County Extension teach others. You will be required to give 100 hours of volunteer service as a Master Gardener. Your real payback will be in what you will learn through this volunteer service, Step 2 of the process.

Please be prepared to make the following commitments if you wish to participate in the MG program:

1) Training: Attend all the weekly training classes each Thursday. Classes run from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

2) Training: Attend all monthly classes and field trips after you complete the basic training. These are normally the second Thursday of the month, year-round, 9:00-12:00.

3) Volunteer Service in the Extension Office for 50 hours over the 12 months following the initial training, answering phone calls about gardening.

4) Volunteer service in the demonstration garden at the Extension office on the third Monday morning of each month, from 9 a.m. to noon. (36 hours over the course of the year). You will need to be able do all the typical activities of gardening: spread mulch, pull weeds, plant plants, prune plants, etc.

5) Volunteer service activities in other ways that fit your abilities and desires. Examples: giving talks to groups about gardening, doing landscape consultations, working with school teachers on garden projects, working with 4-H youth on plant identification training. (Only approximately 14 hours if you have completed your 50 office hours and your 36 demonstration garden hours. However, if you are a little short on demonstration garden hours, you may work some additional hours in this "other" category to obtain the needed 100 hours for annual volunteer service.)

So, if youre interested in rolling up your sleeves and having fun in the MG Program, a lot about gardening while helping others, too, please fill out an application and return it to this address.

Master Gardener Application

615 Paul Russell Road

Tallahassee FL 32301

Applications will be accepted until the class is filled.
We would love to have you join us.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2004 at 10:29AM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

Well frankly, Kimmie, I feel the Leon County MG program is being run by someone who is being completely unfair to the community and gardeners at large.

Primarily, almost EVERYTHING involved with both the course and volunteer hours is during normal 9-5 "working hours" for many folks, with no alternatives offered. This effectively restricts the class to retirees (many of whom are going to be too old to be of much good to the community as volunteers for very many years -- not that some folks don't go harder from 65-95 than I have from 26-46, but I'm talking "averages"), or to folks who don't work days, or to people, like me, who are on disability and may be limited in the amount of real "roll-up-your-sleeves" work they can do, or to "housewives of the rich and famous," who will use it more for their coffee-klatch connections than for the true purpose.

Anywhere that doesn't offer a night class, in addition to a day class, doesn't have a really ACTIVE master gardener program, in my opinion... just one run by the local extension agent to give him or her a little "slave labor" each year. If volunteer master gardeners can run a night program HERE, they can in other areas, as well.

As for the lax restriction on volunteer hours and continuing education we have in my local program, I'm not in favor of them. I feel there should be AT LEAST 10 hours per year of ongoing volunteering required to keep certified, and an equal amount of continuing ed (I've easily met that volunteer quota this year, but due to a broken ankle and other conflicts, I've missed the occasional continuing ed classes they offer, but I DO read in a gardening book or magazine pretty much every day (usually in bed), and I think I get an awful lot off the internet, including the forums here at Gardenweb.

I guess I'm part of that rare breed who believes sometimes more is better, even if it means more inconvenience for ME, too (I also believe everyone should have to retest for their driver's license every time they renew, which is HIGHLY controversial).

Anyway, I guess I UNDERSTAND why many places offer MG programs ONLY during the day -- because the only one available to run the classes and supervise the volunteer activities is the area extension agent, who can't be expected to work day and night... but if we can find knowledgeable MGs to teach the classes at night here, why not other places?

I just don't think it's fair, nor right, nor does it lead to the best possible pool of volunteers from which to draw for various community projects.

Well, I guess you could say I'm NOTHING if not opinionated, and at 400 pounds, I'm CERTAINLY not NOTHING! :)

Happy Mentoring!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2004 at 10:26PM
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jenniew(z6 ohio)

Ohio has 50 volunteer hours and 50 education hours for interns. This has to be met by Oct. 31.
After that it is 20 hours of each in the following years.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2004 at 12:26PM
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andie_rathbone(Tyler, TX - 7B)

Wow! The differences in the programs are amazing. Even within Texas there's a huge vaiation. We had 72 classroom hours & then the Intern year was 72 volunteer hours to get certified.

To maintain certification it's 12 VH & 12 CE's/year.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2004 at 12:08AM
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