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Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Interested in learning more about becoming a master gardener in NY? Contact your local county office.  Not every CCE county office in New York has the resources to support a program.

Looking to advance your gardening knowledge without a volunteer commitment? Explore opportunities with…

Watch our Master Gardener YouTube Playlist for a sample of what’s going on around the state:

The Extension Master Gardener program in New York State prepares individuals for volunteer roles in garden-based learning activities that support the educational mission of Cornell Cooperative Extension(CCE) and the CCE Master Gardener Program Mission, Vision and Values. All CCE Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) program opportunities are managed by the County CCE office who locally recruit volunteers as needed through an application process.  Active Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers commit a minimum number of hours (20-50 hours per year, depending on County policy) in support of county program community activities.

Why be a Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer? The documented benefits of gardening are numerous and include: lifelong learning, environmental/scientific literacy, a sense of accomplishment, physical exercise, improved health, stress relief, physical rehabilitation, psychological rehabilitation, economic success, enhanced social relationships, community building and direct access to nutritious fresh food. Garden-based learning can serve as a catalyst for addressing food security and hunger; climate change; childhood obesity and nutrition; food safety; and youth, family and community development. The widespread appeal of gardening provides opportunity to use gardens to connect with diverse audiences.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is part of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Cooperative Extension System, consequently CCE Master Gardener Volunteers are uniquely linked to Cornell University and positioned to provide best practices grounded in research-based knowledge. These practices foster the skills, knowledge and attitudes essential for creating successful gardening experiences among the 7 million New York State households engaging in garden-related activities as well as school and community organizations we serve. Find more on the Benefits of Garden Based Learning and Research that Supports Our Work.

 

Resources for Master Gardener Volunteers:  The Garden-Based Learning Library

When you become an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, your training will include research-based resources and content from Cornell University in a curriculum that was recently updated in 2019.  The Garden-Based Learning Library is an online community where CCE educators can connect around horticulture resources for their regional and local Extension programming especially the core preparation and advance training of Master Gardener Volunteers.  The goal of this library is to share quality garden-based learning strategies, materials and best practices. Counties will select resources from the library (see outline below) and tailor them to meet your local program needs.  This library is only to CCE Educators, who will share it with Master Gardener Volunteers when selected for the program.

 

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Introduction

  • Section 0.1 Adult Learning and Peer Learning Networks
  • Section 0.2 Community Engagement and Action Projects

Module 1: The Fundamentals

  • Section 1.1 Plant Biology for Gardeners
  • Section 1.2 Right Plant, Right Place
  • Section 1.3 Beneficial Insects
  • Section 1.4 Basic Plant Pathology

 

Module 2: Food Gardening

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  • Section 2.1a Vegetable Gardening (Part 1 of 2)
  • Section 2.1b Vegetable Gardening (Part 2 of 2)
  • Section 2.2 Fruit Gardening
  • Section 2.3 Nutrition, Food Safety and Food Security (Post-Harvest)

Module 3: Ornamental Plants and Ecosystems Services

Image of a person reaching up to pick an apple out of a tree.

  • Section 3.1 Woody Plants
  • Section 3.2 Herbaceous Plants Folder
  • Section 3.3 Lawn Care and Ecosystems Services Folder

Module 4: Problem Solving

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Section 4.1 Pest Management Strategies and IPM
Section 4.2a Pests of Food Crops and Ornamental Plants (Part 1 of 2)
Section 4.2b Pests in the Home and Garden (Part 2 of 2)
Module 5: Management Strategies
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Module 5: Management Strategies

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  • Section 5.1 Organic Waste Management (Composting)
  • Section 5.2 Soil Amendments and Fertilizers
  • Section 5.3 Invasive Species for Gardeners
  • Section 5.4 Gardening in a Warming World

Module 6: Starting and Sustaining Learning Gardens

  •  Section 6.1 Group Gardens and NYS Seed to Supper Network
  • Section 6.2 Youth Development and School Gardens

Module 7: Action Project Presentations & Orientation to Local Program Areas

Image of arrows pointing from a lightbulb (ideas) to a gear (action)

  • Section 7.1 Action Project Presentations
  • Section 7.2 Orientation to Local Program Areas

Advanced Training Sessions

  • Cover Crops
  • Seed Saving
  • Unusual Fruits and Nuts for the Home Garden
  • Engaging Low-Literacy Audiences
  • Weeds
  • Pollinator Protection Part 1: Bee-Friendly Basics and Needs
  • Pollinator Protection Part 2: Habitat Protection

Questions?  Please email garden@cornell.edu

 

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