Frequently Asked Questions: NC Extension Master Gardener Program

— Written By and last updated by Elisabeth Purser
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NC State Extension Master Gardener Union County Logo

Scroll down for answers to the following questions:

  • Who is an Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteer?
  • Do I have to live in Union County?
  • How do I become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Union County?
  • What training is required?
  • Is the training offered in the evening?
  • Is there a fee?
  • What is the volunteer commitment?
  • What type of activities counts toward the volunteer commitment?
red watering can

Who is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer?

A Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) is someone who volunteers with their local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center’s community and residential horticulture education program. MGVs are not necessarily experts in every gardening topic. Instead, they are trained volunteers who know how to find research-based information and provide advice on sustainable gardening practices in their region.

Master Gardener volunteers are life-long learners who enjoy studying topics such as gardening, soil science, entomology, and ecology. They are enthusiastic volunteers who are eager to expand Extension’s reach in their county. As representatives of NC State Extension, Master Gardener volunteers are dedicated to providing research-based, non-biased information and gardening advice.

No prior training is required to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer. Anyone interested in increasing their knowledge on a wide range of science-based gardening topics and who has time to serve in an active volunteer program could become a Master Gardener volunteer.

Do I have to live in Union County?

You do not have to be a Union County resident to become a volunteer with N.C. Cooperative Extension, Union County Center. If you join the program in Union County you will be required to complete your volunteer commitment here rather than in your home county.

How do I become an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Union County?

The first step to becoming an Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Union County is to attend an information session. Learn more and sign up for an upcoming session.

After attending an information session and deciding the EMG Program is right for you, you must apply and be accepted into the program. Download the Application. To receive an application packet by mail, contact N.C. Cooperative Extension, Union County Center by calling 704-283-3729 or email

As an Extension Master Gardener volunteer trainee, you will complete an extensive training course and 50 hours volunteer internship. In Union County, training for volunteers covers gardening skills, knowledge, and volunteer skills.

What training is required?

The gardening knowledge portion of training is provided through Extension Gardener volunteer classes that are open to all residents. The volunteer skills portion of training is taught to Extension Master Gardener volunteers through a series of interactive, hands-on workshops during which you will learn to locate research-based information, diagnose plant problems, and make recommendations on a wide range of gardening topics.

All classes will be held at the Union County Agriculture Center, 3230 Presson Rd, Monroe. Review the 2022 EMG Training Schedule.

At the end of the training course, your knowledge and skills will be evaluated during a guided review and problem-solving session. You will not be expected to rely on memorized information; instead, you will demonstrate you have the skills necessary to find information that will assist you in solving common gardening problems.

Is the training offered in the evening?

Extension Gardener Spring classes are offered in the evening as well as morning. These classes are open to everyone and cover a wide range of gardening knowledge. Here is a schedule for 2022 EMGV Training Schedule.

The volunteer skills portion of Extension Master Gardener volunteer training is only offered in the daytime because that is when we most need volunteers to assist with our programs – during regular office hours, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Is there a fee?

The total cost for Union County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer training is $235.00. The cost includes $60 you pay for the Extension Gardener Spring Class series plus $175 for the Fall Core training which includes expenses directly related to course delivery including name tags, training materials, and supplies, as well as a $50 program development fee per trainee that is assessed by NC State University. This program development fee is the sole funding source for the statewide Extension Master Gardener volunteer program (staff, website maintenance, program development, etc.). The Extension Gardener Spring Class fee is paid in the spring, while the remaining $175 is due with the application. Master Gardener volunteer trainees may also purchase a hardback, full-color copy of NC State Extension Gardener Handbook. The Handbook can be viewed online for free, but many prefer having a hard copy.

What is the volunteer commitment?

Volunteers are required to complete a 50-hour internship within one year of completing their training. Trainees are encouraged to begin volunteering during the training course.

After completion of the 50-hour internship, anyone wishing to remain active in the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program should complete 30 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education each year.

What type of activities counts toward the volunteer commitment?

There are many opportunities for Extension Master Gardener volunteers to fulfill their volunteer commitment in Union County. All volunteer service directly supports and expands N.C. Cooperative Extension of Union County’s educational outreach programs. Learn about volunteer opportunities for Extension Master Gardener volunteers.

Learn More!

Return to the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program of Union County main page