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NC State Extension

About the NC State Extension Master Gardener Program

Working with their local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center, Master Gardener℠ volunteers provide unbiased, research-based information that empowers residents to cultivate healthy gardens, landscapes, and ecosystems through safe, effective and sustainable gardening practices.

Since 1979, Extension has recruited, trained and engaged local residents to serve as Master Gardener volunteers who expand Extension’s capacity to meet the needs of the gardening public.

Under the guidance and direction of Extension agents, individuals complete a 40-hour training program, pass an examination, and complete at least a 40-hour internship to become certified Master Gardener volunteers. To remain active in the program, volunteers must complete a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service and a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education each year.


Interested in becoming part of this volunteer program that is dedicated to promoting research-based, sustainable gardening? Visit Become a Volunteer to learn how you can become part of the Extension Master Gardener℠ program.


The Extension Master Gardener program began at Washington State University in 1972 in response to the high demand for gardening advice. It rapidly spread across the United States. By 1978 NC State Extension volunteers staffed a garden hotline in New Hanover County. The next year Wake County trained their first Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers and three years later, there were 110 Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers in five counties. Now there are over 3,500 volunteers in 84 counties across the state.

Help keep us growing – Donate to the NC Extension Master Gardener Endowment.

Learn more: History of the Extension Master Gardener program in NC