Master Gardener logo, green on white

Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who share their gardening knowledge through CCE.

Master Gardeners in the Greenhouse

Volunteers getting ready to unload the greenhouse for 2023 plant sale

Master Gardener Volunteers in the greenhouse

Master Gardener Volunteers potting plants at Dutchess County Farm & Home Center.

Master Gardener volunteers dividing plants at the Dutchess County Farm & Home Center.

Master Gardener volunteers dividing plants at the Dutchess County Farm & Home Center.

Volunteers verify spellings of plant names and look up information to include on our signs and plant lists. — at Dutchess County Farm & Home Center.

Volunteers verify plant name spellings and other information for plant sale signs and plant lists.

MG Plant Sale

Setting up the sales floor for the plant sale 2023

Master Gardener Volunteers

What is the Master Gardener Volunteer Program?

The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to expand educational outreach throughout the community by providing research-based information to home gardeners and youth.

Master Gardeners are a group of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension office to extend information throughout the county. The first MG program was started in Washington state in 1972. Dutchess County was the first county in NYS (1975) to train MG volunteers. Forty six states now have MG programs with over 23,000 people participating nationwide. More than 1100 of these MGs are from NYS. There are currently 80 active MG volunteers in Dutchess County.

Who Becomes a Master Gardener Volunteer?

Master Gardener Volunteers enjoy people and plants. They usually have no professional gardening or landscaping experience, only a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge, and sufficient free time to volunteer in Master Gardener activities.

Master Gardener Volunteer Training

Master Gardener Volunteer training is held every two or three years. Trainees receive instruction from experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension and elsewhere on a broad spectrum of subjects applicable to home gardening, such as plant nutrition, soils, vegetable and fruit culture, trees, shrubs and lawns, diseases and insects that affect plants, pruning, and much more. After this instruction, trainees complete an examination and are certified as Master Gardener Volunteers. Advanced instruction is offered, and special seminars and refresher workshops are held so that Master Gardeners can stay current on gardening topics and keep their knowledge up-to-date. In Dutchess County, the tuition fee is $375.00 for the training, which covers classes, an extensive resource manual, and texts required for the training, as well as additional source materials.

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.

You can learn more about the topics that are covered in the training by visiting the NY State Master Gardener Volunteer Program pages on the Cornell University website.

Volunteer Commitment:

A Dutchess County MGV is required to contribute 100 hours of volunteer service over an internship period of 21 months, beginning January 1 after graduation. Once the internship is completed, a MGV is required to contribute a minimum of 34 volunteer hours (as outlined in the CCEDC MGV guidelines) per year thereafter to maintain their “active” status as a Master Gardener.

To fulfill their volunteer time commitment, Master Gardener Volunteers have in the past worked in the Lab to test soil samples, answer gardening questions through our horticulture hotline, teach gardening classes, organize and run the MG Plant Sale, write articles for Dutchess Dirt Newsletter, speak or demonstrate to groups, and work in the demonstration gardens. New program initiatives are also welcomed!



We are proud to be taking part in these programs beginning in 2024:

Vegetable Variety Trial Gardens (VVTG) - This companion program to Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (VVfG) for our Cornell Cooperative Extension associations and community partners from around New York State who are cultivating vegetable demonstration gardens as outdoor classrooms for their communities.  

NYS Seed to Supper (S2S) - This is a beginning gardening experience that provides novice gardeners with the tools they need to connect with other people, grow in confidence, and successfully grow a portion of their own food on a limited budget. 

Our program is funded through volunteer fundraising efforts and from donations from the public. 

To make a tax-deductible gift (we are a 501(c)(3) organization), please send your check to Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, 2715 Rt 44, Suite 1, Millbrook, NY, 12545. 

Checks should be made out to CCEDC and sent to the attention of Francheska Kuilan. Please be sure to include a note stating that you would like your gift to be directed towards the Community Horticulture Program (Master Gardeners). 

Thank you!

Last updated January 28, 2024