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Chatham County Extension Master Gardener  Program

Extension Master Gardener program logo

Scroll down for answers to the following questions:

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

Who is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer?

A Master Gardener volunteer (MGV) is someone who volunteers with the their local Extension Center’s community and residential horticulture education program. MGVs are not necessarily experts an 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. watering can graphicAs 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 Chatham County?

You do not have to be a Chatham County resident to become a volunteer with N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Chatham County Center. If you join the program in Chatham 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 Chatham County?

Step-by-step guide and a 2020 training calendar.

The first step to becoming an Extension Master Gardener in Chatham County is to attend an information session. Learn more and sign up for an upcoming session on January 8 or January 16

After attending an information session and deciding the EMG Program is right for you, you must apply and be accepted into the program. Applications are due by June 12, 2020. Download an application packet. To receive an application packet by mail, contact the Chatham County Center of NC State Extension by calling 919-542-8202 or email

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

What training is required?

The gardening knowledge portion of training is provided through Extension Gardener (updated schedule coming soon) 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 Chatham Agriculture and Conference Center, 1192 US 64W Business in Pittsboro. Optional continuing education activities to expand and sharpen your skills are planned for the summer. Review the 2020 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 training offered in the evening?

Extension Gardener classes are offered in the evening as well as morning. These classes are open to everyone and cover a wide range of gardening knowledge. Schedule of upcoming classes.

The volunteer skills portion of Extension Master Gardener 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 minimal cost for initial training in Chatham County is $136-148. This fee includes the $36-48 is needed to attend the minimum 6 Extension Gardener classes ($6-10 each), expenses directly related to course delivery ($50), including name tags, refreshments provided during training classes, 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 program (staff, website maintenance, program development, etc.).

Extension Gardener class fees are paid at the time of registration, while the remaining $100 is paid at the Orientation Session on July 8th. Master Gardener Trainees may also request to order a hardback, full color copy of NC State Extension Gardener HandbookThe Handbook is available online for free , but many prefer having a hard copy as well.

Prospective Master Gardener volunteers are encouraged, but not required, to attend all 10 of the Extension Master Gardener classes. This increases the total course fee to $178.

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 by assisting with a class project.

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

What type of activities count toward the volunteer commitment?

There are many opportunities for Extension Master Gardeners to fulfill their volunteer commitment in Chatham County. All volunteer service directly supports and expands Chatham County Extension’s educational outreach programs. Learn about volunteer opportunities for Extension Master Gardeners.

Learn More!

Return to the Chatham County’s Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program main page

Written By

Matt Jones, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMatt JonesExtension Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Ornamental and Consumer Horticulture Call Matt Email Matt N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center
Page Last Updated: 5 years ago
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