Coordinators Manual




  • Identification and Recruitment of Volunteers
    • Selection of OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Trainees
  • Required forms for Master Gardener™ Trainees
  • Orientation of OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Volunteers
  • Educational Opportunities for Master Gardener™Volunteers
  • Master Gardener™ Curriculum
    • Required Courses
    • Elective Courses
  • Master Gardener Course Content
  • Coordinating the Annual Master Gardener Training
  • Graduating Trainees
  • Setting Master Gardener Training Tuition and Fees
  • Suggestions for a Successful Training Program
  • Master Gardener Training and Program Evaluation
  • OSU Extension Master Gardener Recertification
  • OSU Extension Master Gardener Advanced Trainings
  • Online Master Gardener™ Training Course
    • Overview Online Master Gardener™ Training Course
    • Integrating Online-Trained Students with Local Programs


  • Utilization of OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers
  • OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Project Selection
  • OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Project Selection
  • Service Projects for OSU Master Gardeners™
  • Volunteer Time for OSU Master Gardeners™
  • OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Reporting System
    • Program Coordinators
    • Overview Online Volunteer Reporting System
    • Enrollment Online Volunteer Reporting System
    • Report New Volunteer Service Hours
    • Report New Continuing Education Hours
  • Recognition of OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers
  • Managing the OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Program


  • Master Gardener Certification and Recertification
  • Pest Control Agreement
  • Use of the Title Master Gardener
  • Background History Checks for OSU Volunteers
  • Use of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Title and Logos
  • Volunteer Transfers between Counties or from Another State
  • Political Action Committees
  • Plant Clinic Procedures
  • Identifying Potentially Poisonous Plants
  • Policy on Providing Advice / Support for the Culture and Care of Marijuana
  • Annual Timeline for the OSU Master Gardener Program
  • Volunteer Liability and Risk Management
  • Dismissing a Volunteer
  • Master Gardener Volunteers and School Garden Programs
  • Lettuce Grow Sustainable Gardening Classes


  • Brief History of the Oregon Master Gardener Association
  • Current Role of the Oregon Master Gardener Association
  • Relationship between Master Gardener Program and Master Gardener Associations
  • Collaboration between the Master Gardener™ Program and Master Gardener Associations
  • Guidelines for OMGA Chapter Websites
  • Hospitality Guidelines for Master Gardener Conferences and Seminars

List of Appendices

  • Appendix A.1. Sample News Release about OSU Master Gardener Program
  • Appendix A.2. Sample Master Gardener Application
  • Appendix A.3. Sample Interview Questions
  • Appendix A.4. Sample Acceptance Letter
  • Appendix A.5. Sample Rejection Letter


Many people contributed to this version of the OSU Extension Service Guide for Coordinating a County Master Gardener™ Program.

Rosie Lerner, Community Horticulture Extension Specialist at Purdue University, and Marianne Riofrio, Extension Associate at Ohio State University, graciously made the Master Gardener coordinators’ handbooks used in their programs available to Oregon State University. These handbooks served as the foundation for this Service Guide.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, former OSU statewide Master Gardener Coordinator, developed the first version of this Service Guide for OSU. Additional contributors include: Jan McNeilan (OSU Extension, retired), Ray McNeilan (OSU Extension, retired) and Linda McMahan (OSU Extension, Yamhill County, retired ), Patty Driscoll (former Program Assistant, OSU Master Gardener Program) worked to revise this version of the Handbook and gathered updates of several of the documents in the Appendices. Gail Langellotto (OSU statewide Master Gardener Coordinator) edited and oversaw the revisions of this version of the OSU Extension Service Guide for Coordinating a County Master Gardener™ Program, with input and advice from Master Gardener volunteers and personnel from across Oregon.

Reviews and editorial comments on previous versions were provided by: Janice Cowan, Linda McMahan, Amy Jo Detweiler, Patty Driscoll. 


  • Version 1.0, November 2002  (Coordinated by Anne MarieVanDerZanden)
  • Version 2.0, November 2004 (Major revisions coordinated by Jan McNeilan)
  • Version 3.0, October 2010 (Major revisions coordinated by Gail Langellotto)
  • Version 4.0, September 2017 (Major revisions coordinated by Gail Langellotto)


County Master Gardener Programs

For the latest list of county Master Gardener Programs, please refer to the ‘Local OSU Master Gardener Programs‘ page on the main OSU Extension Master Gardener site.

Counties without Master Gardener Programs

  • Gilliam County, 333 South Main Street, PO Box 707, Condon, OR 97823-0707
  • Grant County, 530 E. Main Street Ste 10, John Day, OR 97845
  • Lake County, 103 South E Street, Lakeview OR 97630
  • Malheur County, 710 SW 5th Ave, Ontario OR 97914
  • Morrow County, 54173 Hwy 74 (PO Box 397), Heppner, OR  97836
  • Sherman County, PO Box 385, 409 Hood Street, Moro 97039
  • Wallowa County, 668 NW 1st Street in Enterprise, Oregon 97828
  • Wheeler County, PO Box 407, Fossil, OR 97830-0407

Statewide Master Gardener Program

Statewide MG Website

Statewide Master Gardener Program Address: 4017 Ag and Life Sciences Building, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-7304

Statewide Master Gardener Program Coordinator: Gail Langellotto
Phone: 541-737-5175 | Fax: 541-737-3479 | Email:

Online Master Gardener Course Instructor: Signe Danler
Phone: 541-908-1307| Fax: 541-737-3479 | Email:

Extension Horticulture Office Specialist: Lee Ann Julson
Phone:  541-737-5480 | Fax: 541-737-3479 | Email:

Please submit all changes of personnel to Gail Langellotto.



This OSU Extension Service Guide for Coordinating a County Master GardenerTM Program is designed for use by Oregon State University Extension personnel in developing and managing a county or multi-county Master Gardener Program.

The information and resource materials contained here will be useful to both Extension personnel considering a Master Gardener Program for the first time, as well as those currently managing a program.

It includes:

  • Materials for recruiting, training, and managing OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers
  • Organizational and managerial tips for Master Gardener Program staff
  • Information on the Oregon Master Gardener Association and County Master Gardener Associations
  • Policies and Procedures of the OSU Master Gardener Program
  • Copies of reference documents that may be of use to Master Gardener Program staff

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about any part of this Service Guide, please contact Gail Langellotto.

The Extension-Volunteer Partnership

OSU Master Gardener™ volunteers are vital to Extension Services nationwide. Volunteers helped create the Extension Service in the early 1900s, and continue to guide its growth and development.

The time and talent donated by volunteers enable the Extension System to create and maintain stronger, more relevant programs and greater visibility in the community. Through Master Gardeners, we have reached more people throughout the U.S., served more communities, and created greater clientele confidence.

Successful Master Gardener Programs are the result of a solid working relationship between Extension personnel and Master Gardener volunteers. The Extension-Volunteer Partnership has been shown to be most satisfying when volunteers are provided a solid educational foundation, perform service that is recognized and valued, and have an opportunity to continue and advance their training. Likewise, Extension personnel perform best when they receive training and information on working with volunteers, and are able to efficiently and effectively utilize the time and talent of volunteers.

Mission, Vision, Strategies of the OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Program

Mission Statement: We educate people about sustainable gardening in the Pacific Northwest, via annual Master Gardener trainings, educational opportunities for the general public and recommendations and advice delivered by trained volunteers.

Vision: We endeavor to establish Oregon State University Extension as an authoritative and first choice for people seeking research-based and objective information and education on sustainable gardening in the Pacific Northwest.

Action Items: Towards this end, we will work to:

  1. retain quality faculty and staff and to increase faculty FTE associated with the Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener Program.
  2. ensure that our information is accurate, up to date and focused on sustainable approaches/methods
  3. update our online presence, so that more of our information is easily accessible to a broad audience
  4. market our services to the general public, to increase awareness of Extension Master Gardener resources and opportunities, as well as to build public support for the Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener Program
  5. better connect with national EMG initiatives, to represent Oregon’s needs and to help drive the national Extension Master Gardener program
  6. foster sustainable financial support for the Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener Program – statewide and in counties

Overview of the OSU Extension Master Gardener™ Program

The purpose of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program is to provide training for volunteers who in turn assist in providing community horticulture services to the public.   Under the auspices of Oregon State University Extension, individuals with an active interest in horticulture enroll in an intensive training program in horticulture and related fields. When the trainees complete a 40-hour (minimum national standard) training program, pass all assessments required by their county Master Gardener Program, and complete their volunteer service requirement, they become certified as an OSU Extension Master Gardener. The volunteer service requirement is expected to be comparable to the number of hours received in training. This service after the training is referred to as ‘volunteer payback’, ‘volunteer practicum’ or ‘volunteer service requirement’ by various county programs across the state. At the statewide level, and throughout this manual, the service is referred to as the ‘volunteer service requirement’.

Master Gardener certification is good for one calendar year. Advanced training and recertification opportunities are available on an annual basis for those wishing to continue in the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program.

While the concept is simple, the process of implementing this program is more demanding. There are costs for the program in time and personnel, but these should be considered investment costs. The Master Gardener Program allows the local Extension office to provide community horticulture education and services to a public demanding assistance, and to develop a broader clientele base. If your programming has not been addressing community horticulture issues, you may find that this clientele group can offer you important support with your county government.

Supporting Publications

Flagship Programs of the OSU Extension Master GardenerTM Program

In 2008, the Home Horticulture working group chose Sustainable Gardening and Local and Backyard Food Production as the two flagship programs of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program.  These areas have always been a focal point of Master Gardener trainings and service, but having formally decided upon these programs helps to guide communications about the Program, basic and advanced training opportunities and planned Extension publications.

Sustainable Gardening. A ‘sustainable garden’ is defined as one where the gardener is able to meet their needs and expectations, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Lectures, workshops, seminars and Extension publications teach Master Gardeners and others how to adopt and maintain more sustainable gardening practices.

Local and Backyard Food Production. Local and backyard food production contributes to a sustainable food system, greater food security and a nutrient rich diet. Lectures, workshops, seminars and Extension publications teach Master Gardeners and others about the various aspects of vegetable gardening and fruit production in a private or community garden.

National Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Program Mission and Standards

The Extension Master Gardener National Committee (EMGNC) provides a national focus and contact point for the nationwide Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program and the various state efforts in Extension Consumer Horticulture.  In 2012, the EMGNC appointed a task force to develop a nationally unifying mission statement and set of program standards.  These were developed in 2013, and adopted in 2014. More information on the development of the mission statement and standards is available in a 2015 Journal of Extension article.

Our National Mission: Extension Master Gardener programs educate people, engaging them in learning to use unbiased, research-based horticulture and gardening practices through a network of trained volunteers directed and supported by land-grant university faculty and staff.

Our National Standards: Extension Master Gardener programs are networks of land-grant university-trained volunteers, distinguished by the standards listed below.  To achieve greater consistency in program management and the volunteer experience across the Cooperative Extension system nationally, state Extension Master Gardener programs will strive to meet these standards and ensure they are reflected in the statewide program.

Program Structure and Expectation Standards

  • has an established statewide organizational system
  • establishes state program goals that align to achieve the EMG program mission
  • engages in Extension-approved projects and programs designed to educate the public about horticulture and gardening
  • is accountable to state Extension leadership and local stakeholders
  • shows documented educational impact in local communities that demonstrates behavior change and public value
  • follows the Equal Opportunity Guidelines for their state and/or university

Volunteer Management and Preparedness Standards

  • uses recognized volunteer management practices
  • incorporates a system for volunteer leadership and development
  • uses an established state training curriculum (A suggested core curriculum includes Botany, Physiology, Soils, Basic Pathology, Entomology, Weeds, IPM, Vegetables, Fruits, Turf, Woody Ornamentals, Herbaceous Ornamentals, Composting, Diagnostics and Troubleshooting, Planting and Maintenance, Introduction to Extension Master Gardener Program, and Record Keeping and Reporting)
  • requires a measurement of volunteer competency following completion of state training program
  • requires volunteer service hour; 40-hour volunteer service minimum in the initial training year and 20-hour volunteer service minimum in subsequent years
  • requires annual continuing education and professional development hours; 10 hours minimum annually in years following initial training
  • uses an annual recertification criteria and process

Supporting Resources


Identification and Recruitment of Volunteers

The actual recruitment process should start two to five months before training begins. At this point in the calendar year, you may have already accumulated a list of people who have expressed interest in the program. You may have collected names at public gardening events, farmer’s markets or in the Extension office.  Potential volunteers may have called to ask about training opportunities, or they may have used the online sign-up form ( to receive an application for the next Master Gardener training in your county.  The statewide coordinator will periodically forward you contact information received from the online signup form.  You may have other sources of potential volunteers through a newsletter mailing list, garden club contacts, and so on.

Before accepting potential volunteers into an annual training class, consider how many volunteers you need to keep your program going and/or to grow your program.  Do you have the time to schedule and supervise the activities of 10, 20, 50 or 100+ volunteers? What types of skills and experience do you require from volunteers, to continue the activities you have planned for the year?

The factors you consider and how many volunteers you choose to accept are up to you and your supervisor. Having the Master Gardeners assist with clientele requests for gardening information and doing simple diagnoses of routine plant problems is a common activity. This may be the only activity you are able to supervise, given your current position description and appointment.  Or, you may have other activities in mind. Some activities may require very specific skills or interests from Master Gardener volunteers, while others may be more general.

It is important to recruit from all communities, socio-economic groups, adult ages, and ethnic groups in your area. This will provide you with a pool of potential volunteers with diverse backgrounds and interests. This diversity can be of great benefit in reaching a broader audience. Potential volunteers must have the time and be willing to volunteer in the specific jobs and locations with active or emerging OSU Extension Master Gardener projects.

One of the best ways to advertise the Master Gardener Program is through the mass media – newspaper, radio, television, and on your county’s website. An article in the local newspaper’s gardening column and announcements on TV and radio interviews can generate many applications. Poster announcements in nurseries, garden centers, farmers markets and at Extension events will also generate interest.  If your county and/or Master Gardener Program maintains a social media presence, you can use these resources to reach a broader audience of potential volunteers.

Some counties hold informational meetings to introduce the Master Gardener Program to potential applicants. This serves the dual purpose of eliminating those people who are looking for gardening information but are not interested in volunteering, as well as beginning the process of orienting future Master Gardeners to the OSU Extension Service. Current Master Gardener volunteers should be invited to describe their experiences with the Program, including their time in training sessions and volunteer activities.

Supporting Resources

  • Appendix A.1: Sample news release.
  • Washington State University’s MG Program Coordinator Training:Recruiting Volunteers:

Certificates and Badges

Certificates can be ordered by contacting Lee Ann Julson, in the Horticulture Department Office at OSU. There are four types of certificates that are available:

  • Certificates of Appreciation: to thank program supporters in the community
  • Certificates of Home Horticulture: for those who successfully complete the training class, but did not complete volunteer service hours, and are thus not certified Master Gardeners
  • Master Gardener Recertification: for veteran Master Gardeners who complete recertification requirements (minimum of 10 hours of continuing education and 20 hours of volunteer service)
  • Master Gardener Certificate of Completion: for those who complete the training class and volunteer service hours. These individuals also receive a Master Gardener badge.

Badges are ordered from Superior Stamp in Medford, Oregon (1016 E Jackson St, Medford, OR 97504, (541) 772-4773).

Recertification stickers (for badges) may be ordered from Gail.

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