Extension Volunteer Master Gardener Program

Do you enjoy plants and gardening? Are you looking to learn more and hone your skills but don’t know where to go? The Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program will educate you on many aspects of horticulture, allow you to test your knowledge and skills, all while serving your local community.

The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program is a horticulture related volunteer training program based in many counties throughout the state. It has been part of Nebraska Extension since 1976. Master Gardener volunteers are trained by Nebraska Extension faculty and staff. In return, they contribute time as volunteers working with their local Extension offices and communities to provide horticulture-related information and volunteer service. Participants are required to complete 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer service during the initial year of their involvement in the program. Master Gardener volunteers retain their certification through annual training and volunteering.

Educational topics cover a wide range of horticultural issues. Topics that have been covered in previous training sessions include: native plants for water conservation, an in-depth look at fertilizers, turfgrass and related insects, beneficial pollinating insects and vegetable garden pests, tree and shrub pruning, pesticide safety and non-chemical pest control techniques, soils, and small fruits and tree fruit basics. The content of the topics is geared towards the home gardener, but those employed in the green industry are also welcome. No prior horticulture knowledge or training required.

Volunteer hours can be completed through various activities. These activities could include: planting and maintaining demonstration gardens, collecting data on research projects, helping with county and state fair activities, speaking to community groups, leading garden tours, collecting plant samples, answering phone questions, teaching youth programs, or whatever sparks your interest and utilizes your talents.

The Central Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program is active in many communities across the region. If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener contact Elizabeth Exstrom at the Nebraska Extension in Hall County Office, 308-385-5088, prior to January 12th, 2024. The Central Nebraska Master Gardener Program will be offering classes in several different ways, in-person at the Hall County Extension office located in Grand Island, over zoom in the evenings, and through an online platform.

To apply: Master Gardener Application .  For financial assistance: Financial Assistance Application.  If you have questions about the program, contact Elizabeth Exstrom at eexstrom2@unl.edu or 308-385-5088.