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Sonoma County Gazette
Vonnie Matthews and Susan Calvert Manning at the 2016 Sonoma County Fair

UC Master Gardener Program
of Sonoma County is Accepting Applications

Aug 28, 2017


Photo above: Vonnie Matthews and Susan Calvert Manning at the 2016 Sonoma County Fair

If you love to garden, to learn about horticulture, and want to share your information with others, the UC Master Gardeners of Sonoma County oer you the opportunity to learn and to use your knowledge of gardening to serve the community.

The Master Gardener program is a volunteer organization that provides education services to local gardeners. Each trainee must meet the following qualifications:

  • Have a commitment to community service in Sonoma County
  • Be willing to volunteer as an agent of the University of California Cooperative Extension
  • Attend training classes on Thursdays, January through the first week of May. There will be a few classes held on Saturdays.
  • Attend nine hours of training at the Information Desk. This training is individually scheduled during February and March and is in addition to the training classes above.
  • Be fingerprinted and pass a Department of Justice background investigation. (If CA residency is less than 2 years, an FBI background screening will be conducted instead of the DOJ background investigation.) Complete/sign a Volunteer Confidential Self-Disclosure Form before finalizing acceptance into the program.Fingerprinting requires an appointment and must be done no later than the first day of class. Details will be presented to you at the orientation meeting.
  • Volunteer as a first-year Master Gardener, after completing the training class, for at least 50 hours on approved Master Gardener activities. A certain number of hours on the Information Desk and selected other projects are required.
  • Volunteer each year after the first year, for at least 25 hours per year on approved Master Gardener volunteer activities, and complete at least 12 hours of approved continuing education.

The fee for the classes is $285 and will be collected after your acceptance as a trainee. Please do not enclose the fee with your application. Partial scholarships are available. If you are accepted, you will be informed about how to apply for assistance.

To be considered for acceptance, you must attend one of the orientation meetings on Thursday, October 5, 2017 from 5pm to 7pm or Friday, October 6, 2017, from 10am to 12pm, at the Luther Burbank Arts Garden Center at 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa.

At this time, the Master Gardener organization and requirements will be fully explained andyourinterviewwillbescheduledonadate betweenOctober 16 through October 20.TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE CLASS OF 2018, YOU MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR ANINTERVIEWDURINGTHIS TIME.NOEXCEPTIONS. Interviews will be held at the UC Cooperative Extension oce.

Selection of members for the new training class will take place by the end of October, and you will be notified of the results by the first week of November. If you have questions about the required orientation meeting, please call the Master Gardener Coordinator at 565- 2880. You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application.

Most, if not all, communication to members of the 2018 Training Class will be via e-mail. Vital documents (quizzes, exams) for the Training Class members will be available electronically; therefore, it is necessary for candidates for the Master Gardener Program to have computer familiarity and availability.

FAQs about the UC Master Gardener Program 

What is the Master Gardener Program?

Master Gardeners are volunteers trained and certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension in the areas of gardening and horticulture. Since 1981 they have been extending information and providing technical assistance to home gardeners in Sonoma County.

What training is given to Master Gardeners?

Master Gardener trainees attend a training program comprising approximately 115 hours of instruction in plant science and horticulture covering such topics as soils, fertilizers, irrigation, weeds, diseases, insects and other pests, fruit and landscape trees, vegetables, xeriscaping, and more. Each trainee receives The California Master Gardener Handbook as well as other UCCE publications.

Classes are taught by experts in their fields. They include Cooperative Extension Advisors and specialists from the University of California at Berkeley and Davis, local community college faculty, and other knowledgeable resource people.

Who becomes a Master  Gardener?

Master Gardeners are people of all ages and from all walks of life. They include businessmen and women, professionals, educators, retirees, homemakers, and students — all with some knowledge of plants and gardening. Master Gardeners must be enthusiastic, willing to learn and help others, and must be able to communicate with diverse groups of people.

What is the Master Gardener's commitment to the program?

After completing the training and passing a written exam, the new Master Gardeners are required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service. Master Gardeners are selected on the basis of their ability to fulfill this commitment. In order to retain the title Master Gardener in ensuing years, Master Gardeners must complete 12 hours of continuing education per year and perform 25 hours of   volunteer service per year. Limited scholarship assistance is available.

What kind of volunteer work does a Master Gardener do?

Master Gardeners sta an information desk in the County Extension oce where they answer questions, diagnose plant problems, and give horticultural assistance to gardeners. Information is also dispersed at Farmers Markets, fairs, and through talks and   demonstrations.

How can one obtain information from a Master Gardener?

Telephone the Sonoma County Cooperative Extension oce to ask a Master Gardener questions about plants and gardening in Sonoma County (707-565-2608). Samples of insects, weeds, and diseased plants may be taken to the oce for diagnosis. Master Gardeners are available to give talks for garden clubs, senior citizen groups, elementary schools, and other community organizations. Visit our website at

What is Cooperative Extension?

The University of California Cooperative Extension is part of a nationwide program established by an Act of Congress in 1914 as part of the Land Grant University in every state. Three levels of government participate in funding Cooperative Extension programs: federal, through USDA, provides a portion of the budget; state, through the universities, pays for statewide programs; and county, which   provides housing and operating expenses for local Cooperative Extension oces. The University of California Cooperative Extension works in cooperation with federal and county governments to provide local educational programs throughout California.

The mission of the University of California Cooperative Extension is to develop, extend, and bring about the use of research based knowledge to improve specific practices and technologies. In addition, Cooperative Extension makes practical information generally available. Cooperative Extension has research support and organizational capacity in agriculture and natural resources, in family and consumer science, in community resource development, and in youth development.

University of California county sta (Advisors) are located in county Cooperative Extension oces in nearly every county in California. County Advisors extend knowledge, conduct field research, and provide leadership in selected Cooperative Extension program areas.


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