It’s a new day for training to become a Master Gardener volunteer

The OSU Extension Master Gardener program has revamped, revised, and re-imagined training for new Master Gardeners in 2022 to become more accessible than ever. Mixing the best of both worlds, online training will deliver our top-notch university-level gardening education, with localized and in-person hands-on training workshops organized by county-based OSU faculty. 

Why are we doing this?

We’re better meeting community needs: In the summer of 2021, we conducted an extensive community assessment. Findings clearly show the general public wants flexible opportunities to interact, access content and learning on demand, and on their own time. Offering elements of training online and/or in-person will clearly meet that demand in a way we’ve never done before. 

Many of our counties are large and have required distant travel to attend trainings. We’re already hearing from new trainees who are excited to finally be able to become Master Gardeners who have not been able to join due to the distance. 

On-demand education also means that people with busy schedules can fit the training into their schedules in the way it works best for them. 

We’ve lowered the cost, with many counties offering tiered pricing that includes reduced fees and opportunities for scholarships. Tiered pricing includes options for those who want to pay a bit more, to support others who choose the reduced fee option.

COVID is still here: it’s difficult to anticipate what 2022 will look like. Meeting inside, social distancing, and differing county impacts, all make maneuvering with COVID an ongoing challenge. This new model can better meet the need and demand while maintaining flexibility through this changing climate. 

Capacity: We currently have a lack of faculty and staff available to teach Master Gardener trainings. Our “people power” is at an all-time low due to retirements and new hires.

Previously, many of our faculty would travel to teach in person, which is extremely time extensive. With the talented faculty we do currently have, they’re able to provide additional support statewide virtually, actually extending and expanding the reach of experts available to Master Gardener trainees.

Better delivery of adult education means more hands-on workshops, less lectures: Instead of using our in-person time for 3-hour lectures, our hybrid training model uses that time for hands-on, interactive, and experiential workshops. Instead of listening to PowerPoints, trainees instead learn from our expert faculty and Master Gardener volunteers in the garden.

What does it mean to be a Master Gardener?

Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers are neighbors, friends and family who you can go to for garden advice that is grounded in science and locally relevant. We are garden educators and on-the-ground community scientists. Learn more about our mission, vision, values and priorities of the program.

Are you ready to become a Master Gardener?

Get connected locally with your county Master Gardener program to find out when your county is accepting applications, and when training is scheduled in your area.