Whether you want to pursue a career in horticulture, you’ve recently retired and suddenly have extra time to invest in your favorite hobby, or you just want to learn more about creating the best possible garden, becoming a Master Gardener can help you achieve your goal.

The very title Master Gardener seems awfully hoity-toity, but it essentially means that someone has spent a lot of time studying gardening information and processes for your region. Established by the American Horticultural Society, the Master Gardener program’s purpose is two-fold:

  1. For avid home gardeners to receive extensive horticulture training provided by state university extension instructors
  2. For trained Master Gardeners) to use their knowledge to volunteer in the region by helping with exhibits, lectures, community gardens, research, and other projects

With the right level of interest and a time investment, you can achieve Master Gardener status. Interested? Check out these simple steps for becoming a Master Gardener:

  1. Find your state’s Master Gardener contact information Web site by visiting the American Horticultural Society. Depending on your state, the program may be administered at the county level by local representatives of the state university. This practice is especially important for states with several different climates and plant zones. For example, the training provided for Master Gardeners living in the mountains near Flagstaff, Arizona will be very different from the training for those living in the low desert of Phoenix.
  2. Locate the next training class and contact the local representatives to sign up. Some Master Gardener programs are offered once or twice each year, some more often. Be prepared to cough up some cash–the cost for training may end up being several hundred dollars. If your program receives more applications than it has slots available, your application may be evaluated based on your history of volunteerism and your gardening experience or knowledge.
  3. Be prepared to invest some time. You’ll complete approximately 50 hours worth of training in topics ranging from soil to plant propagation to composting. After your training is complete, you’ll need to complete an additional 50 hours of volunteer activity before becoming a certified Master Gardener.

Why not put your gardening knowledge to the test and become a Master Gardener–you’ll be doing what you love and feeling good by helping other home horticulturists.