In New York State the master gardener program is a volunteer service program not a course or certificate. The Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) programs are managed individually by county CCE associations. Our collective aim is to support the CCE’s educational mission through garden-based learning programs in our local communities. Through volunteer service CCE MGV work closely with their county program leader to support educational efforts including public gardening workshops and helping address citizens’ questions related to gardening management as well as helping community and school groups launch their own gardening programs. CCE MGV programs are focused on education and may maintain demonstration gardens as outdoor classrooms for their public workshops but maintaining gardens for outside organizations is not part of our educational outreach. More on why be a CCE MGV below at bottom of this page.
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) county Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) programs select volunteers as needed through an application process from their pool of residents of that county. This happens at varying intervals depending on local county resources and needs. Check your local county office for current information. Core horticulture training is the first requirement of the CCE Master Gardener Volunteer commitment, followed by an agreement to volunteer with you CCE county program for one or more years for a specific number of hours. Once you stop volunteering you are no longer a CCE Master Gardener Volunteer as it is not a certificate, it is a volunteer job title.
Not every CCE county office in New York has the resources to support a CCE MGV program. Those that do are listed below. CCE local county office contact information.
If you are looking for a course not a volunteering opportunity you might be interested in horticulture Cornell Department of Horticulture distance learning courses. Find the current listings here. The content of our Organic Gardening course is very similar to the core training for the CCE Master Gardener Volunteer program. The CCE MGV training manual is also available on line for anyone to review.
Counties with Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Programs include those listed below.
- Allegany and Cattaraugus
- Cattaraugus and Allegany
- Columbia and Greene
- Fulton and Montgomery
- Greene and Columbia
- Montgomery and Fulton
- Otsego and Schoharie
- Schoharie and Otsego
- St. Lawrence
Find out more about the National Extension Master Gardener program.
Why be a Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer?
Gardening is enjoying an expansion of interest. The documented research benefits of gardening are numerous and include: lifelong learning, environmental/scientific literacy, 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.
Cornell Cooperative Extension is part of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture cooperative extension system and gardening can be link to every NIFA priority – serving as a catalyst for addressing food security and hunger; climate change; sustainable energy; childhood obesity and nutrition; food safety; and youth, family and community development. Gardening widespread appeal also provides opportunity to use gardens to connect with diverse audiences.
These and the other benefits of gardening are maximized when gardening success is achieved. CCE Master Gardener Volunteers with CCE educators are uniquely position to provide best practices grounded in research-based knowledge to 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 using gardening as a tool to achieve desired outcomes.