Program Overview

The MSU Extension Master Gardener Program 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 educational component includes successful completion of the MSU Extension's Foundations of Gardening (FOG) Course, followed by acceptance as an MSU Extension Volunteer and completion of a local onboarding session.  MSUE FOG takes place in the Spring and Fall every year and is completely on-line.  FOG cost is $350 with partial scholarship opportunities available prior to the registration. 

After receiving a certificate from FOG, there is no additional costs to the volunteer application and onboarding.  Future volunteers should not apply to become volunteers until they are enrolled in the MSUE FOG course.  Local onboardings take place at different times across the state depending on the demand for new volunteers and are open to those with FOG certificates.  Graduates of FOG must first be accepted as MSUE volunteers prior to registering for a local onboarding course.  Information on local onboarding opportunities can be obtained by contacting your local MSUE Consumer Horticulture Educator in your area.  Local onboarding is a combination of on-line and in-person volunteer learning activities for 2-3 days.

Volunteer Commitment

The MSU Extension Master Gardener trainee’s commitment to volunteering is equally as important as 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 their 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.