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Be a Master Gardener

UC Master Gardeners are trained representatives of the University of California Cooperative Extension.  We provide research-based information, advice and education for the home gardener.

Who can be a Master Gardener?

Any Mariposa County adult resident with an interest in horticulture and public service may apply for the Master Gardener Program. Other requirements include availability to complete the 18-week training and, upon certification, the time to volunteer and share your knowledge with the community.  A passion for gardening, good communication skills to a diverse group of people and a desire for continued education are also helpful.

What is the training program? 

Training classes are held every other year. In 2024, classes will consist of a hybrid format. Online Zoom lectures will be held every week. All classes will be recorded. Every class must be attended or the recording must be watched.  Instructors are University of California Cooperative Extension Advisors, horticultural specialists, and community experts.  There will also be mandatory horticulture labs approximately every other week. These will be in-person sessions held in Mariposa County. The curriculum is designed to provide a practical course in plant science and horticulture. 

Topics include

  • Introduction to horticulture;
  • Soil and plant nutrition;
  • water and fertilizer management;
  • pest identification and control;
  • management of home orchards and landscape trees;
  • home vegetable gardening;
  • plant diseases and diagnosis;
  • composting;
  • weed identification and management,
  • oak tree care,
  • native plants, 
  • and much more.

While in training, the student is assigned a Master Gardener mentor, who will support and assist the student throughout the program.  Completion of the coursework and a passing grade on the open book final exam earns the student certification as a Master Gardener.

Is there a fee for the training?

Yes.  There is a fee to cover training and resource materials.  The amount is determined mid-year once expenses for the upcoming program have been determined.  The fee for 2024 will be around $250.  Scholarships may be available in special circumstances.

What is the commitment to the program once certification is received?

New Master Gardeners are required to contribute 50 hours of community volunteer work from the beginning of your training (January 2024) until the end of the following fiscal year (June 2025).  In subsequent years, the Master Gardener is required to contribute 25 hours each year.   In addition, in subsequent years, each Master Gardener must obtain at least 12 hours of continuing education each year.  Continuing education programs are frequently made available to the Master Gardener.

What type of volunteer work is available?

Mariposa County has a number of programs in which our Master Gardener Volunteers participate. These opportunities accommodate a variety of schedules and interests. They may include activities such as:

  • Staffing our weekly Help Desk;
  • Manning information booths at the fair, farmers’ market, and other local events;
  • Assisting with outreach programs including school and community gardens;
  • Participating in the work done in our two demonstration gardens—the Creekside Native Plant Garden in Mariposa and the Firehouse Garden in Coulterville.
  • Working on fundraisers such as the annual plant sale and spring garden tour;
  • Participating in propagation and other hands-on projects
  • Providing public outreach through workshops, talks, demonstrations;

A little more about us…

The Master Gardener concept originated in 1972 in Washington State.  With a growing interest in home gardening and an increase in the volume of research-based information available, a group of university extension advisors sought a better way to disseminate information to the public.  Thus, the Master Gardener Program was born. Introduced in California in 1979, with pilot programs in Riverside and Sacramento counties, there are now over 40 active Master Gardener programs in California.  Mariposa has participated since 1995. 

UC Master Gardeners of Mariposa County are advised and supported by Fadzayi Mashiri, Mariposa County Director and Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for Mariposa and Merced Counties; and Sheri Mace, Master Gardener Coordinator, Mariposa County.

2024 MG Training Class Application

Please return your application to Sheri Mace at smace@ucanr.edu or mail/drop off to 5009 Fairgrounds Rd., Mariposa CA 95338.