Training Program

2023-2024 Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program

The Master Gardener Volunteer training will take place online beginning in the fall of 2023. The online training will include self-paced learning modules coupled with live virtual sessions where participants will have direct access to dozens of horticultural experts from across the state, in addition to several in-person learning opportunities. The course, designed to train volunteers for horticulture and food system related community service projects, will cover vegetable and fruit production, plants for the Maine landscape, soil health, composting, pesticide safety, food security, and more. Participants will be expected to engage in fun volunteer opportunities after the training takes place. 

If you are not interested in volunteering, or unable to volunteer, please consider our alternative learning opportunities:

  • Boost your resume with Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training: Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training is a 3-part, comprehensive curriculum designed to supply learners with a foundational horticulture education suitable for skilled entry-level positions in the horticulture industry.
  • Grow your personal gardening knowledge with Maine Gardener Training: Maine Gardener Training is designed to supply learners with a foundation in horticulture education and skills for use in their personal garden. Recommended for those who would like to access the educational content of the Master Gardener Volunteer training program but are not interested or able to volunteer.

How to Apply

Participants must complete an application in order to be considered for this program.

The application period for the 2023-2024 Master Gardener Volunteer Program is closed. Please visit our How to Apply webpage to signup for an interest list for the 2024-2025 Master Gardener Volunteer training. 

Course Fee

This training program is offered on a sliding scale (self-selected). We strive to make the training accessible and affordable for all Maine residents. The course fee covers expenses including books, supplies, and other direct course-related expenses. 

  • $300: Full price: Suggested for those who can afford the full course fee.
  • $150: 50% discount: Suggested for those who can afford 50% of the full course fee.
  • $75: 75% discount: Suggested fee for participants for whom the full course fee would prove a barrier.
  • Pay it forward through our UMaine Extension Horticulture Fund! This fund is intended to help us with our goal of offering horticulture learning opportunities to economically challenged individuals at an affordable rate.

*Please contact us if these payment options still proves a barrier for participation.

Please note: Books and supplies will need to be picked up at the regional workshop during the first or second week of class. Please check the syllabus for exact dates and times. If you are not able to attend the regional workshop, please contact your coordinator(s).

Refund Policy: 50% refunds will be available until October 30, 2023.

The training program will be divided into three parts, all of which are required:

  • Part 1 & 2: The online course consisting of self-paced modules and live Q&A sessions using Brightspace and Zoom will take place from October 23 to December 17, 2023 (part 1) AND January 8 to March 17, 2024 (part 2). Additionally there will be spring and fall in-person half-day workshops at three locations throughout the state. 
  • Part 3: The 40-hour volunteer internship will begin after the online training takes place. Interns will have until the end of the calendar year to complete their 40 hours of volunteer service. 
    • In order to maintain the Master Gardener Volunteer certification, volunteers must commit to volunteering a minimum of 20 hours every calendar year with an approved project and submit an annual enrollment form.

Part 1 & 2: Online Course

Course Format: Part 1 & 2 of the Master Gardener Volunteers Training will be completed virtually through Brightspace, our online learning platform. Participants can anticipate 4-5 hours of self-paced content a week including reading, videos, and activities. Participants will also get access to live Q&A Zoom sessions with a panel of experts scheduled to take place on Tuesday evenings. Check with your local coordinator(s) about any meet and greets that are scheduled during the training. 

In order to become a certified Master Gardener Volunteer, participants must:

  • Successfully complete the training by:
    • Completing the self-paced learning content
    • Receiving an average grade of 80% on the module quizzes
    • Completing your Volunteer Internship Proposal
  • Complete your Volunteer Internship (at least 40 hours on an approved project) by the end of the calendar year

Course Schedule (tentative)

Module 1: Volunteerism

  • Orientation
  • Volunteerism
  • Food Systems and Food Security

Module: 2: Foundations of Horticulture

  • Ecology
  • Botany
  • Propagation
  • Soils and Composting, Part 1
  • Soils and Composting, Part 2

Module 3: Food Production

  • Vegetables 
  • Garden Maintenance and Food Safety
  • Small Fruits
  • Tree Fruits

Module 4: Garden Pests and Diseases

  • Prevention
  • Identification
  • Management

Module 5: Maine Landscapes and Design

  • Plants for the Maine Landscape
  • Landscape Design and Maintenance

Part 3: Volunteer Internship and Hands-On Learning

To become certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer, all participants must complete an internship that involves volunteering at least 40 hours on approved horticultural projects by the end of the calendar year. Our program provides opportunities for gardeners with all levels of experience to connect with projects in their community. Participants will be expected to complete an internship plan throughout the spring semester. Your local coordinators will help you find approved volunteer opportunities that are well suited to your interests, location and skill sets. 

Hands-On Learning: There will be half-day regional workshops offered to Master Gardener Volunteer Interns who are working towards their certification. These workshops will take place in the Fall and Spring, and will be held in the southern, central, and northern parts of the state. Exact dates and locations will be announced soon. These workshops will feature demonstrations on seasonal topics and the opportunity to connect with volunteers in your county. Please note: These workshops are regional and may require a longer drive. 

Technology Requirements

This course content will be entirely online with optional hands-on classes. An email address, access to a reliable internet connection, the newest version of your web browser and an electronic device (i.e. laptop, desktop, iPad, or tablet) with video/audio capabilities are required to complete this course.

Is online learning right for you? Online learning is an accessible, affordable, and flexible learning environment that allows students to work around their personal schedules to obtain quality education. If you are wondering if online learning is right for you, please visit Online Learning: What You Need to Succeed.  

Do you need access to a computer or reliable internet to participate in this training? 

  • To complete coursework: you may contact your local Extension office to schedule a time to use their WiFi during office hours (in the building) or use WiFi anytime from the parking lot.
  • Contact the National Digital Equity Center for no cost or low cost tablets for Maine Residents who are of low to moderate income.
  • Many public libraries have computers available for public use. Contact your local library for more information.
  • If you are still unable to find access, please contact your local Extension office.

Accommodations: If you need a reasonable accommodation, please contact us at or 207-581-3188 by September 15, 2023. If requests are received after this date, we may not have sufficient time to make necessary arrangements.

Other Available Training Programs

image of girl gardeningMaine Horticulture Apprentice Training is a micro-credential program recommended for those who are or will be considering skilled, entry-level employment in the horticulture industry.  Review full course information on the webpage.



image of ornamental plants around a paved walkway beside a houseMaine Gardener Training is recommended for those who would like to access the educational content of the Master Gardener Volunteer training program but are not interested or able to volunteer. Review course information on the webpage.