Become an Extension Master Gardener

The Late Winter/Spring 2021 Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program application period is NOW OPEN through October 31st!

We held our Information Night on September 24th to provide additional details and answer questions about our Extension Master Gardener volunteer training program. 

If you are interested in applying to our program, please view the recording of this session before completing your application paperwork.


After watching the session, please fill out and submit the three forms necessary for a “complete application,” in order to be considered for the program.

See below for more information.


Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Master Gardener Program

VCE LogoThank you for your interest in our Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteer training program for Arlington and the City of Alexandria.  VCE is your local connection to Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University.

Offered by VCE, Arlington County Office, and in partnership with the City of Alexandria, the VCE Master Gardener program trains participants in best management practices for gardening and landscaping that preserve and sustain the environment.

EMGs are supported by our association, MGNV, a 501(C)(3) non-profit, which collaborates with VCE to further our parallel goals of providing community education about sustainable gardening practices.


What is an Extension Master Gardener (EMG)?

An EMG is an individual who, after receiving specialized training in environmental horticulture through the VCE, acts as a volunteer educator within his or her community.  An EMG provides education on all aspects of sustainable landscape management, including turf and soil fertility management, vegetable and ornamental gardening, tree and shrub care, storm water control, and insect and plant disease management.


What does the EMG volunteer training program include?

Developed by Virginia Tech horticulture specialists, VCE Agents, and the state Master Gardener Program Coordinator’s office, the EMG volunteer training program consists of two parts: 60 hours of classroom training, and a 60-hour hands-on internship.  In class, trainees learn about basic botany and soil science, woody and herbaceous plants, vegetable gardening, Integrated Pest Management practices, lawn care, etc. The internship includes hands-on experience in our demonstration gardens, at our plant clinics, and with public education.


When and where will the next EMG volunteer training program be held – and how can I apply?

Our next volunteer training class will be mostly virtual and will begin in early February 2021.  The class will include watching pre-recorded sessions (about 2 hours per session, with 2 sessions each week) followed by a “live” Zoom class where class business and Q&A sessions with our topic speakers will occur.  Attendance is required at these “live” Zoom classes.

Class sessions are currently planned for Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m.:

  • February 2nd, 4th(Thursday), 9th, 16th & 23rd
  • March 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd&30th
  • April 6th& 13th

Depending on restrictions in place regarding in-person gatherings, we may also try and meet on some Saturdays in March and April for hands-on training sessions.  We will be limiting our class size to 20 trainees this year in order to be able to better manage potential in-person activities.

This year’s training class will utilize Zoom for “live” class sessions, and CANVAS as the learning management platform, where the pre-recorded sessions will be housed along with additional resources.  We request all applicants be able to use Zoom, be comfortable learning/using technology, and have sufficient Wi-Fi/internet access to support these platforms.  If you are not comfortable with technology, we strongly encourage you to apply when we return to our usual in-person training format.

In order to be considered for our EMG volunteer training program, you must watch the Information Night session and fill out and submit the following 3 forms:

Forms can be submitted in a pdf. format (no photos please) to Leslie Fillmore at LeslieF7@vt.edu or printed out and mailed in hard copy to:

EMG Program Coordinator
c/o Leslie Fillmore
5706 27th Street North
Arlington VA 22207

We will collect applications through October 31st. After receiving applications, we will conduct 30-minute Zoom interviews for selected applicants.  Applicants will be notified of their selection by January 8th 2021.

Once notified, applicants must submit payment within 2 weeks in order to confirm their spot in the class.  The class fee is $255 for Arlington County and City of Alexandria residents, and $305 for non-residents.  Some need-based scholarship assistance is available, so please do not let cost prohibit you from applying.  To request scholarship assistance, please complete the linked form and include it with your application submission.


Who should take the class?

If you want to be a volunteer educator, love gardening, and want to protect our environment by sharing what you learn with our community, this class is for you! Once certified, EMGs teach the community about our best management practices for urban agriculture and sustainable landscaping. EMGs retain their certifications by annually completing 20 volunteer hours and 8 hours of continuing education.

For more information about training or becoming an EMG, please contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Horticulture Help Desk by phone email  703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com. You may also visit us at 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington VA 22206.