Become an Extension Master Gardener

Fall 2020 Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training has been postponed until early February 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pivoting from our usual in-person class format to a virtual class format. In order to have adequate preparation time to transition to this new format, we are delaying the start of our annual Volunteer Training until early February of 2021. We will be holding our Information Night in late September 2020 to provide additional details and answer questions. After Information Night, we will open our registration process and begin accepting applications.

VCE Master Gardener Program

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

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What is an Extension Master Gardener?

An Extension Master Gardener is an individual who, after receiving specialized training in environmental horticulture through the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), acts as a volunteer educator within his or her community.  An Extension Master Gardener (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 Volunteer Training Program include?

Developed by Virginia Tech horticulture specialists, VCE Agents, and the state Master Gardener Program Coordinator’s office, the 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 2020 Volunteer Training Program be held – and how can I apply?

Our Fall 2020 Volunteer Training has been postponed until early February 2021 in order to allow us time to pivot to a virtual training class. We believe this is our best course of action given the continuing need for social distancing, especially for indoor classroom type situations where space is often tight.

Our EMG Volunteer Training will look very different this year.  While planning is still underway, presently we plan to start virtual classroom sessions in early February 2021 and conclude them by the end of April. We plan to have asynchronous virtual classes (meaning you can watch pre-recorded sessions anytime during that particular week’s cycle) with mandatory “live” Zoom Question and Answer evening sessions with speakers for the topics.   We hope that toward the end of the sessions, we will be able to get outside for some in-person socially distanced hands-on practical sessions, likely to occur on weekends.

Due to the format of the class, we strongly encourage only participants who would feel comfortable using on-line technology to apply.  Applicants who are not comfortable with technology and would feel more comfortable and enjoy an in-person training are encouraged to apply when we resume our regular in-person EMG Volunteer Training. Additionally, while some items of the internship may need to be adapted for Covid-19 conditions, most of this work will need to be done in person, so please consider your health status and comfort level when deciding to apply.

The application process includes filling out an application, a questionnaire, a volunteer form, and a Zoom interview.  A basic background check is also required for all volunteers.  We will not accept applications prior to Information Night as we want folks to understand exactly what they are signing up for!

For additional information, please contact
Master Gardener Program Coordinator Leslie Fillmore at

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.

Where can I see what Extension Master Gardeners do?

Learn all about our extensive EMG activities by exploring this website.  You can also find EMGs at the following locations in Arlington and Alexandria, as well as at many special events such as the Arlington’s Home and Garden Expo, Alexandria’s Earth Day, and the Arlington County Fair:

Supported by VCE & MGNV

The Virginia Cooperative Extension is your local connection to Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University.

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

For more information about training or becoming a Master Gardener, please contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Horticulture Help Desk at 703-228-6414 or email;  or visit us at 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206.