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Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program

Training Class Information

Volunteer Training Program Information

The Alameda County Master Gardener Training Program trains volunteers to provide research-based horticultural information and education to County residents.  Master Gardeners are part of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), an outreach and public service unit of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). 

After completing the training, the newly certified Master Gardener is required to complete 50 hours of volunteer service to the Cooperative Extension within one year's time.  In subsequent years, in order to remain within the program, 25 hours of volunteer work and 12 hours of continuing education are required annually.  The desire and ability to fulfill the volunteer commitment is a major criterion in the selection of a potential Master Gardener.

Applications can only be accepted from residents of Alameda County, and you must attend a free Information Session in order to apply. 

Attendance:  During the training program, you must attend all training classes.

Training Program Content:  Classes are taught by experts ranging from UC faculty and staff, local horticultural educators, and certified Master Gardeners.  Topics that may be covered in the training program include:

  • Introduction to Horticulture
  • Water Management
  • Soil and Compost
  • Lawns & Groundcovers
  • Plant Disease
  • Landscape Trees & Shrubs
  • Abiotic Disorders
  • Mediterranean Climate-Adapted Plants
  • Insects
  • Vegetable Gardening
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Fruit Trees & Berries
  • Problem Diagnosis
  • Citrus


 and more....


Homework:  You should plan on significant study time outside the classroom, usually about 12+ hours per week.  Minimum homework required for the training program includes:

  • Weekly reading (typically 30-40 pages) from the Master Gardener Handbook and other assigned materials, resources of the UC IPM website, and other assignments.
  • Weekly research to answer home, garden, and landscape problems brought into the Help Desk.  Much of this research is done using the computer.  Computer skills including email, word processing, Internet searches, and presentation software are essential and required.

Fingerprinting: As required by the UCCE, all volunteers must pass a background check that includes fingerprinting.  Once you have been accepted into the program, we will provide a mobile finger printing service during the first class session. Trainees will be responsible for the cost of the background check, approximately $25.

Application:  An application for admission to the Training Program will be provided once you have completed the mandatory orientation session.  

Fees:  A non-refundable tuition fee of $310 is due at the time of your acceptance into the program.   A limited number of need-based scholarships are available; information on available scholarships will be presented at each Information Session.

Read one Master Gardener's take on the program: On Being a Master Gardener.

Once trained, Master Gardeners are required to contribute 50 hours of volunteer work within the first program year.  To continue to be a Master Gardener, volunteers must commit to 25 hours in each following year and take 12 hours of continuing education classes.

With the help of a Program Coordinator, the Master Gardener Program is administered by the Master Gardeners themselves.  An elected Advisory Board helps guide the program to promote sustainable home landscapes in Alameda County.

Congratulations, Graduates!
Please welcome our 2019 Master Gardeners!