Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

New Member Application Season Now Open


How to Become a MG

Are you interested in lifelong learning? Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge of good gardening practices with home gardeners? Do you love to garden? And do you like volunteering in your community? University of California Marin Master Gardeners (MMGs) do all this and more! Working with fellow gardening enthusiasts you will gain knowledge about the life of the garden, and put what you know into practice for the benefit of home gardeners, our community, and our environment. Among other things, MMGs encourage sustainable landscape practices, support the creation of local food sources, and conduct outreach to promote youth gardening. Last year, MMGs donated thousands of hours to our community.

The Master Gardener Training Program is an intensive 18-week overview course that provides a practical introduction to horticulture and sustainable landscape practices. Classes meet every Thursday from January through mid-May. Classes are taught by: University of California faculty and staff, landscape and nursery professionals, local horticulture educators and certified Master Gardeners. A team of Master Gardener mentors will also help to guide you throughout the training class and connect you to our organization.

Topics Included in the Training Program:

Climate, Microclimate and Site Analysis

Growing Vegetables and Fruits

Botany and Plant Taxonomy

Plant Pathology

Soils, Composting and Mulching

Insect Pests and Beneficial Insects

Plant Propagation

Integrated Pest Management


Water Wise Irrigation Practices

Ornamentals, Trees, and Shrubs

Garden Planning

Native and Low Water Plants

Weeds and Invasives, Fire-resistant Planting

MGs in class 2019
Marin residents with an interest in horticulture and a desire to share what they’ve learned through our community outreach projects may apply to the Master Gardener Training Program. MMGs are people of all ages and come from all walks of life. They share an enthusiasm for gardening, some knowledge of plants, a willingness to learn and help others, and the ability to communicate with diverse groups of people.

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is part of a nationwide program established by an Act of Congress in 1914 as part of the Land Grant University in every state. The mission of the UCCE is to develop, extend, and bring about the use of research-based knowledge to improve specific practices and technologies. The Master Gardener program is one way of extending this knowledge county by county by providing the home gardener with research-based information from the University of California.

In addition to completing the Master Gardener Training Program (Training Program) and its requirements, first year MMGs are required to complete at least 50 hours of MMG-sponsored volunteer service and 12 hours of appropriate continuing education in the first year after graduation. To remain a certified MMG in each year thereafter, a minimum of 25 hours of MMG-sponsored volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education are required. 


MGs in the soil 2019
MGs in the garden 2019

Master Gardeners are the go-to people for University of California research-based horticulture information and for teaching sustainable gardening practices for healthy homes and gardens. We staff a UCCE Help Desk in the UCCE office, answering questions, diagnosing plant problems, and giving horticultural assistance to home gardeners. We provide information through newspaper articles, farmers’ markets, talks and demonstrations and we work on a broad range of community horticultural and gardening projects. To learn more about some of the MMG volunteer opportunities, explore the links under Community Outreach Projects or watch the We Are Master Gardeners video below:


To become a UC Marin Master Gardener (MMG), Trainees must participate in and complete the Training Program. Our all-volunteer Training Team works hard to create a stimulating, exciting and varied Training Program. The list below describes what is necessary to become a MMG:

  1. Applicants must be Marin County residents.
  2. All applications are due by Friday, September 6, 2019.
  3. Interviews are held September 24, September 26, October 7, and October 8, 2019.
  4. A non-refundable Training Program fee of $350 is due upon acceptance into the Training Program but no later than Friday, October 25, 2019. Scholarships are available to those with financial need.
  5. An Orientation for all new class members is held on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
  6. UCCE requires all volunteers accepted into the Training Program to be fingerprinted by the Marin County Sheriff on or before Friday, November 15, 2019.
  7. Trainees must attend all eighteen (18) training classes held every Thursday beginning on January 9, 2020 and continuing through graduation on May 7, 2020. Classes begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. and end by 3:30 p.m. Most classes will be held at College of Marin Indian Valley Campus in Novato. Some classes are held at other locations.
  8. In addition to attendance at all Training Program classes, Trainees are required to complete rigorous coursework outside of regular class hours. This work includes:|
    a. Weekly reading (30 to 50 pages) from various assigned sources including textbooks and the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website
    b. Weekly homework assignments
    c. A Garden Planning Project (a cumulative project spanning several weeks)
    d. Two small group research projects, both including short presentations
    e. Four 3-hour training sessions with a tutor at the UCCE Help Desk in Novato. (These take place on weekdays from March through July 2020 and are in addition to the Thursday class days.)
    f. An open-book final exam with a grade of 70% or higher
  9. The time commitment for the Training Program is estimated to be 20-25 hours per week, including time spent in class, with some weeks requiring more hours.
  10. Basic word processing, internet research, and other computer skills are required to perform the work of a Trainee and a MMG.
  11. The Training Program supplies course textbooks except that Trainees must provide their own copy of the 2012 edition of The New Sunset Western Garden Book.
  12. By June 30, 2021, Trainees must complete:
    a. 50 Volunteer Hours on MMG activities and projects. Volunteer Hours must include at least one shift at one of the MMG Farmers Markets, at least 6 hours at the UCCE Help Desk in the UCCE Office in Novato, and at least 4 hours in each of 3 other volunteer projects. (The 6 UCCE Help Desk hours are scheduled on weekdays and are in addition to the 12 hours of UCCE Help Desk training mentioned above.)
    b. Twelve Continuing Education (CE) Hours. In the year following graduation, Trainees must complete 12 hours of CE as defined by MMG.
  13. To remain certified each year after the first year, MMGs must complete a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer service on MMG activities and projects and 12 hours of CE as defined by MMG.
Friday, September 6, 2019 Deadline for online application submission
Tuesday, September 24
Thursday, September 26
Monday, October 7
Tuesday, October 8
Selected applicant interviews
By Friday, October 11 Acceptances emailed
Friday, October 25 All course fees due
Thursday, November 7 Orientation at Outward Bound Key Room, Novato
Friday, November 15 Fingerprinting completed
January 2020 (TBA) Winter Celebration
(All Master Gardeners and new class members)
Thursday, January 9, 2020 Training Program classes begin
(9:00 am - 3:30pm every Thursday for 18 weeks)
Thursday, May 7, 2020 Graduation
September 2020 (TBA) MMG Annual Meeting and Celebration


Completed online applications must be submitted by Friday, September 6, 2019. Click here to complete the Marin Master Gardener Application.

Candidates selected for interviews must come in-person (no phone interviews) to the UCCE Office (see address above) for a 15-minute interview on one of the following dates: September 24, 26, October 7 or 8, 2019. Because of the number of applications received, we regret that we will not be able to accommodate or interview all that apply. We welcome re-application in subsequent years.

Accepted applicants meet at an Orientation on Thursday, November 7 and the Training Program is held every Thursday beginning on January 9, 2020 and ending on May 7, 2020.

In accordance with applicable State and Federal laws and University policy, the University of California does not discriminate in any of its policies, procedures, or practices on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, medical condition, ancestry, citizenship or disability. Inquiries regarding this policy may be addressed to the Affirmative Action Director, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 1111 Franklin Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200, (510) 987-0096.

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