Become a Better Gardener!
UVM Extension Master Gardener Program
The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Master Gardener program started in 1991 as a unique volunteer program where Vermonters received training by university faculty and industry professionals on research-based gardening information. In return, participants volunteer in their communities by educating others on a number of home horticulture topics.
The UVM Extension Master Gardener Course is our 16-week online signature course. It covers the fundamentals of home gardening including basic botany, soil fertility, insects and diseases, vegetable planning and production, herbaceous perennials, small fruit and tree fruit, pollinator plants, tree care, landscape design, and volunteerism. Content is specific to Vermont's growing conditions. The course is offered each winter/spring as required training to become a certified Extension Master Gardener volunteer or as personal/professional development as an at-your-own-pace asynchronous option.
2023 Extension Master Gardener Course
Registration for the 2023 Extension Master Gardener course is now closed (as of January 18, 2023).
Please read the information below about course details and expectations.
Track 1 (Volunteer Track): Become an Extension Master Gardener!
Track 1 (Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Certification)
The UVM Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Certification program, also known as Track 1, requires an application process and background check for Vermont residents interested in participating. Students who are interested in this track have access to the online course with a weekly schedule that includes real-time Q&A sessions with instructors, quizzes, weekly activities and strict due dates. Students in this track commit to completing all course assignments on time, and go on to a 40-hour volunteer-internship requirement over a 2-year period after the course.
Expectations of Track 1 (Volunteer Track) Students:
- Commit to completing all course requirements on time (including weekly readings, pre-recorded lectures, quizzes and final exam) and attending all the weekly Zoom sessions on Thursday evenings. We estimate that Track 1 students devote about 6 hours per week to successfully complete the course.
- Complete volunteerism paperwork during the first week of the course: Volunteer Application, a background check consent form (if you have lived in Vermont for more than a year) or fingerprinting process (if you have lived in Vermont for less than a year); and our Minor Protection Training.
- Participate in a 40-hour volunteer internship (over 2 years).
Benefits to Becoming a Certified Extension Master Gardener:
- Course completion letter and intern badge.
- Certified Extension Master Gardener badge and certificate (upon completion of 40 volunteer hours).
- Access to UVM faculty and staff expertise and other professionals.
- Learn from other Extension Master Gardeners.
- Give back to your community.
- A network of EMG colleagues that includes thousands of Vermonters.
- Access to a number of special offers, discounts and educational opportunities.
Track 1 / EMG Certification is a Good Fit for someone who is:
- A Vermont resident (required).
- Comfortable using a online-course platform and Zoom.
- Able to commit to the course schedule and complete all assignments on time.
- Eager to make a difference in your community.
- Enjoys sharing knowledge with members of your community / general public.
- Committed to research- / science-based home horticulture information.
- Able to interact amicably and professionally with others.
- Committed to environmental stewardship.
- Dedicated to completing 40 hours of volunteerism within 2 years of taking the course.
- Committed to maintaining volunteer certification.
Track 2: At-Your-Own-Pace
Track 2 (At-Your-Own-Pace)
Track 2 is open to students outside Vermont and Vermonters who would like to take the course at their own pace. Track 2 students have access to all course content but pursue the course at their leisure with a completely optional weekly schedule, assignments and due dates. There is no volunteer requirement and no Extension Master Gardener volunteer certification for Track 2 students. Students who successfully complete the course receive a Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion that may be used for personal or professional advancement purposes.
Expectations of Track 2 (At-Your-Own-Pace) Students:
- If interested in a Home Horticulture Certificate, complete the course quizzes and final exam before the course closes.
- It is estimated that Track 2 students spend 3 to 5 hours each week to complete assignments, quizzes, and watch recorded sessions.
Track 2 Benefits:
- No schedule, no hassle.
- Access the materials for your own learning as your leisure.
- Receive the Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion.*
Track 2 is a Good Fit for Someone who is:
- Not a Vermont resident.
- Not interested or doesn't have time to volunteer.
- Interested in navigating course content at their own leisure without following the course schedule.
- Interested in gardening information for your own knowledge.
- Working in a field related to gardening and wants to learn more about the science of gardening.
- Interested in a professional qualification (The Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion can be used as a professional qualification on a resume).
Tips on Registering for This and Other Courses Hosted by the Extension Foundation
Getting an Extension Foundation Account
This online course is hosted on the Campus Site of the national Extension Foundation at https://campus.extension.org/.
To register for the course (and other courses we offer), you must have an Extension Foundation account. You may use your Google or your Microsoft account to create an account at this site and subsequently log in. If you do not have either, then please select the "Create new account" button at: https://campus.extension.org/login/index.php or use the Account Creation Form which does not require email validation.
If you have any problems or questions about creating your account, see the Extension Foundation's Campus Help Page.
Finding Our Courses
Once you have an Extension Foundation Campus account, you will be able to enroll in our UVM Extension Master Gardener and Vermont Master Composter courses. You can find our courses through a search of the catalog, using "vt master gardener" as keywords.
Course Content and Structure
This information applies to the 2023 course only but may give future students a sense of what is covered in the course. The 2023 course started on January 20, 2023; course content is available to students until May 25, 2023. Track 1 Students participate in real-time Zoom sessions on Thursdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m. ET from Jan. 26 to May 11. The 16-week course covers the topics listed below. See the full course syllabus here.
The Extension Master Gardener course is offered online over 16 weeks. Each Friday afternoon, a new module opens. Each module contains:
An outline of topics covered in the module;
A pre-recorded lecture by the week's instructor,
Required readings from the course manual; and
Other assignments for the week.
Track 1 students follow a weekly schedule as follows.
Tuesdays by midnight: Turn in a question based on the lecture and readings.
Thursdays 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Attend the real-time Zoom sessions with the instructor.
Fridays by midnight: Take the module's weekly quiz.
Grades are determined by the ability of Track 1 students ability to complete the items above by the deadlines. The course also includes a final exam. Track 1 students must achieve a total grade of 80% (160 out of 200 points) to pass the course and move onto becoming an intern.
Track 2 students must complete all quizzes and the final exam before the close of the course portal, and must achieve a total grade of 80% (80 out of 100) to receive a Home Horticulture Certificate.
Required Course Manual
Extension Master Gardener Manual
The required text for the course is the Penn State Extension Master Gardener Manual available for $75 plus shipping through PennState. this 880-page book is comprehensive and covers topics included in and beyond the scope of the course.
The manual is NOT included in the registration fee. Please order the manual upon registration.
If you are unable to purchase the manual, we have placed copies in multiple libraries around the state, see list below.
You may lend the book from one of these libraries directly or through an interlibrary loan. Talk to your local librarian for details about how to make an interlibrary loan request. Please keep in mind that the library loan period will likely be shorter then the duration of the course, so you may need to renew the book several times. This period varies by library, so be sure to ask your librarian about their loan period policies. Some libraries will offer an extended loan period, so be sure to ask your local library if this is possible.
One copy of the Penn State Master Gardener Manual, are available at the following locations:
The fee for the Extension Master Gardener course is $400 for Vermonters -- which translates into a value of $25 per week. However, we know that the registration fee may be a hardship and so we offer partial scholarships to Vermont residents interested in completing Track 1 (volunteer track) of the course.
Deadlines for Scholarships have Passed
Please note that, for the 2023 course, a limited number of scholarships of $250 were available -- the deadline to apply was Dec. 23, 2022 (no exceptions).
We also accept VSAC and AmeriCorps grants -- please apply by no later than Dec. 18, 2022.
Refunds & Accommodations
Registration is now closed for the 2023 course (as of January 18, 2023). We are unable to accept students to the course after this date but would be happy to add you to our contact list for next year's course.
Dropping the Course / Refund Policy
The final date to drop the course and request a refund is midnight on Friday, January 27, 2023 . We are unable to process refunds after this date. We can, however, move Track 1 students over to Track 2 upon written request.
To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Deb Heleba at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-656-1777 by December 18, 2022 so we may assist you.
Please direct questions about the course to Deb Heleba at email@example.com.
Planning for the 2024 EMG Course
How to Prepare for the 2024 Course
- Get a notification when the 2024 course registration opens by sending your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Review Tracks 1 and 2 above to determine which Track best meets your interests and availability. If interested in Track 1, poke around our website, especially the Volunteer Portal to learn more about volunteerism ins and outs.
- Get yourself an Extension Foundation Campus account -- instructions can be found above under "Tips on Registering for This and Other Courses Hosted by the Extension Foundation".
- Be mindful of our timeline. Plan for 16 weeks of exciting coursework starting in January and running through May.
Tentative 2024 Course Timeline
Note: These dates are tentative and provided to help future students get a better sense of the timeline. The dates are subject to change and should not be used for definitive planning. Final dates will be posted in Autumn 2023.
- November 1, 2023: Registration opens.
- November 1, 2023: Apply for VSAC or AmeriCorps awards.
- Decembe 15, 2023: VSAC and AmeriCorps registrations due.
- December 22, 2023: Scholarship Applications due.
- January 12, 2024: Registration deadline.
- January 19, 2024: Course portal opens / course begins.
- May 16, 2024: Course portal closes.