master gardeners
Image by CCE Nassau

Master Gardener volunteers help extend gardening knowledge into the community.

Master Gardener Volunteer Program

The Master Gardener program is a volunteer program developed by the Cooperative Extension System and coordinated by county units of the system. It is a program designed to both expand the educational level of volunteers with accurate, unbiased horticultural information and to provide the volunteers with an opportunity to share this information with others. The term "Master Gardener" has become synonymous with a knowledgeable individual, provided with in-depth horticultural training, working to enhance their community and share their knowledge with others.

To prepare Master Gardeners for their role in the community, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County provides an in-depth training program. Staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University faculty and local horticulturists serve as the training team for the program. Resource materials, fact sheets, bulletins and visual aides are provided to each Master Gardener as resources for their work.

The goal of the Master Gardener Training Program is two-fold:

  • To educate home gardeners in practical, environmentally friendly horticulture methods and related topics
  • To train class members to be multipliers of information to the public through our Horticulture Information Center by staffing the phones, giving lectures, answering questions at plant clinics, etc.

In general, classes are held every week for a period of 15 weeks. In addition, several field trips are scheduled during the early period of training. Master Gardener training includes in-depth lectures, field training, Horticulture Information Center orientation and training, hands-on pruning, soil testing, composting, IPM (Integrated Pest Management), etc. Homework, weekly quizzes and reading assignments are required.

Upon completion of formal training, Master Gardener Interns have an obligation to return one hundred fifty (150) hours of volunteer service in a variety of mutually agreed upon programs and activities of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Continued learning after graduation via regularly scheduled in-service training opportunities is recommended.

There are over 100 active Master Gardeners in Nassau County.  Volunteer hours were spent in the Horticulture Information Center manning the gardening helpline, performing soil tests and answering questions from residents who visited the Center. Also, hours were spent maintaining demonstration gardens and demonstration sites, giving presentations to community groups, attending in-service programs, and manning exhibits and information booths at various community locations.

Last updated February 21, 2023