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About the NC State Extension Master Gardener Program

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Master Gardener volunteers share their knowledge with the public.

Since 1979, the NC State Extension Master Gardener℠ program has recruited, trained, and engaged people to serve as volunteer educators who strengthen Extension’s delivery of science-based horticultural knowledge to North Carolinians.

Our mission is to connect people to horticulture through science-based education and outreach that empowers North Carolinians to cultivate healthy plants, landscapes, ecosystems, and communities.

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 complete a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service and 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 or contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center to learn how you can join the Extension Master Gardener program.

The NC State Extension Master Gardener program operates in 83 of N.C. Cooperative Extension’s 101 local centers. Find out how to connect with Master Gardener volunteers in your community to get answers to your gardening questions on the EMG Garden Help Directory.

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Support the work of Master Gardener volunteers across North Carolina by making a tax-deductible donation to the NC Extension Master Gardener endowment.


The Extension Master Gardener program began at Washington State University in 1973 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 83 counties across the state.

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