Program Overview

The MSU Extension Master Gardener Program (MGP) is a horticulture education and volunteer leader training program. Volunteers are committed to improving the quality of life in Michigan through horticulture-based volunteerism and beautifying communities throughout the state.


The MSU Extension Master Gardener Program serves two major and equal functions:

  • To provide instruction in basic, research-based horticulture science to motivated and active gardeners through an adult (18 years or older) educational program offered through MSU Extension.
  • To provide MSU Extension with trained gardeners who will educate others in the community about environmentally and economically sound practices through horticulture-based volunteer activities.

Educational Requirement

The MGP’s educational component provides an overview of major horticulture subjects in a classroom setting. Extension Master Gardener trainees attend a series of classes that address a minimum of 14 topics that are supported by a 1000-page Extension Master Gardener training manual.

Topics covered during class sessions are:

  • Introduction and Volunteerism
  • Plant Science
  • Soils for Plant Growth
  • Annuals and Perennials
  • Woody Ornamentals
  • Lawns
  • Vegetables
  • Small Fruits
  • Tree Fruits
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Indoor Plants
  • Household and Nuisance Pests
  • Diagnostics for Extension Master Gardeners
  • Gardening Practices to Protect Water

Volunteer Commitment

The Extension Master Gardener trainee’s commitment to volunteering is just as important (if not more so) than the educational component of the course. Trainees have the chance to educate and inspire others in their communities through horticulture activities. Volunteer tasks may include everything from designing an elementary school garden with children, to creating a horticulture therapy program at a senior center, to helping a neighborhood beautification team with site and plant selection. Upon completion of the educational component and 40 hours of volunteer service in Michigan, the Extension Master Gardener trainee will receive his or her Extension Master Gardener certification.

Maintaining MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer status requires completing a minimum of 20 hours of community service in the state of Michigan, and 10 hours of education each year.