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Extension Master Gardener Program Frequently Asked Questions

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SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

  • Who is an Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteer?
  • Do I have to live in Buncombe County?
  • How do I become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Buncombe County?
  • What training is required?
  • Is the training offered in the evening or weekends?
  • Is there a fee?
  • What is the volunteer commitment?
  • What type of activities counts toward the volunteer commitment?

WHO IS AN EXTENSION MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER?

A Master Gardener℠ volunteer (MGV) is someone who is a life-long learner and enjoys studying topics related to gardening, soil science, entomology, and ecology. They volunteer with their local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center community and residential horticulture education program and are representatives of NC State Extension, dedicated to providing science-based, unbiased information on garden and landscape practices.

MGVs are not necessarily experts in every gardening topic. Instead, they are volunteers trained to find and provide gardening information to people in their community and in this way extend the outreach into the community.

Although some gardening experience is helpful, no prior training is required. Anyone interested in increasing their knowledge on a wide range of gardening topics, who completes the training and fulfills the requirements to serve in an active volunteer role can become a Master Gardener volunteer.


DO I HAVE TO LIVE IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY?

First preference is given to residents who live in Buncombe County since this is the community you will be serving. 


HOW DO I BECOME AN EXTENSION MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY?

READ THE INFORMATION:
Understanding this information is important to know the requirements and commitments for the training and continued volunteer service. It will also help you determine if this is a volunteer program you would like to be part of.

SUBMIT AN APPLICATION:
You must submit an application to apply and be accepted into the training program. Applicants are interviewed and evaluated on communication skills, computer competency, working with others, ability to attend training, and commit to the volunteer and continuing education requirements.

Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2021 Initial Training. Although dates for the next training have not been set,  you are welcome to submit an application that will be kept on file until further notice.

EMG Application and Certification Agreement

ATTEND AN ORIENTATION SESSION:
Individuals accepted into the training program will be required to attend an orientation session prior to the first training class. Individuals will be notified of this date as soon as it is available.

INITIAL TRAINING:
Under the guidance and direction of Extension agents, students who complete the 14-week, 40-hour initial training program, pass an examination, and complete an internship of 40-hour of volunteer service become a certified Extension Master Gardener volunteer.

INTERNSHIP:
MGV students become interns, upon the successful completion of the initial training, and are then required to complete 40 hours of volunteer service. The internship must be completed within 1 year following the initial training. During this time Interns are required to volunteer in the various activities and events within the Buncombe EMG program. Once the internship is complete, interns graduate and become certified Extension Master Gardener
 volunteers.


WHAT TRAINING IS REQUIRED?

Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteer initial training prepares you to be a Master Gardener volunteer with knowledge and skill. The course covers a wide range of horticultural topics, with a focus on finding research-based information, diagnosing plant problems, sharing information, and making recommendations. Developing skills is also a part of the initial training and can include; working on committees, interacting with the public, managing projects, writing, developing and presenting educational programs, classes and workshops.

INITIAL TRAINING INCLUDES: 

  • Minimum of 40 hours of instruction 
  • Taught by Extension staff, local experts, and seasoned EMGVs
  • Topics include soils and plant nutrients, composting, insects and diseases, Integrated Pest Management, lawns, vegetable gardening, small and tree fruit, herbaceous, woody and native plants, wildlife management, diagnosing plant problems, and more
  • Activities, homework, and quizzes to test knowledge 
  • Take-home or in-class, open-book exam

You will not be expected to rely on memorized information. The emphasis is on your ability to demonstrate you have the skills necessary to find information that will assist you in solving common gardening problems.


IS TRAINING AVAILABLE AT NIGHT OR WEEKENDS?

Training at night or on weekends is currently not available. We understand this may be difficult for some of you and hope to make this possible in the future. 


IS THERE A FEE?

The cost for training in Buncombe is $150. This includes county fees for expenses directly related to the training including name tags, training materials, and supplies. State fees included are the sole funding source for the statewide Extension Master Gardener volunteer program (staff, website maintenance, program development, etc.)


WHAT IS THE VOLUNTEER COMMITMENT?

Annually, MGVs are required to complete and record a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer service and a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education to remain active and maintain their certification. Many volunteers work beyond these minimums as they have found fulfillment in serving the Buncombe community and satisfaction in belonging to a community of gardeners.


WHAT  TYPES OF ACTIVITIES COUNT  TOWARD THE VOLUNTEER COMMITMENT?

There are many volunteer service opportunities for MGVs to meet their volunteer commitment and directly support the EMG program in Buncombe County. Many of these are currently offered during regular office hours, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Other activities are held on Saturdays and some roles can be served remotely or outside normal office hours. 

Here is a list of the committees and programs the Buncombe MGVs are involved in:

Community Education: Garden Helpline, Information Table, and Speakers Bureau

Community Outreach: Youth Outreach, Therapeutic Horticulture, The Learning Garden located at 49 Mt Carmel Rd.

Communications: EMG website, blog and social media, photography, and advertising, fundraising – garden tour, plant sale, sponsors

EMGV Membership & Education: Continuing Education, WNC Gardening Symposium, Technology, Social


We are interested in making your participation possible and ask that if there are aspects of this training that make your attendance difficult please call Alison Arnold at 828-250-4880.