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Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

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Have a gardening question?

The Rutherford Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer hotline can be reached by emailing us at with any home gardening questions. Questions can also be asked via phone by calling the Rutherford County Extension Center at 828-287-6010.

Are you interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer?

Join a network of passionate gardeners across the state who are dedicated to learning and sharing research-based information, enhancing their communities through horticulture, and connecting people with the benefits of gardening. Become a Master Gardener℠ volunteer!

How to become a Master Gardener Volunteer Youtube Video

Upcoming Training for Rutherford County

We will start the next Course in 2025. In 2024 the course was 14 weeks of classes, each Tuesday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Jan 30 to April 30.

Submit an Application

Submitting an application is the first step you need to take to start the program. Our Master Gardener_Application can be downloaded and filled out electronically, or you can call our Horticulture Agent, Laura Ponder, at 828-287-6015 or come into our office to pick up a physical copy of the application.

Complete Initial Volunteer Training

Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer initial training prepares you to be a Master Gardener℠ volunteer. The course introduces a wide range of horticultural topics, with a focus on finding research-based information and sharing the science behind sustainable gardening practices.

Initial training includes:

  • Minimum of 40 hours of instruction
  • Taught by Extension staff and local experts
  • Topics include botany, soils and plant nutrients, composting, insects, Integrated Pest Management, food production, organic gardening, herbaceous, woody and native plants, wildlife, landscape design and more.
  • Field trips that add to learning opportunities
  • Take-home open-book exam

Curious about the textbook we use? Check out the online Extension Gardener Handbook. Also available to purchase in hardcopy.

Complete Volunteer Internship

All Rutherford Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer Interns are required to complete 40 hours of service to learn more about horticulture and give back to our community.

During the internship, volunteers rotate through a variety of volunteer opportunities that support the educational outreach priorities of our Extension center. We encourage volunteers to start projects that they are passionate about when they are made aware of a community need.

Become Certified

Once the 40-hour internship has been completed the volunteer is eligible to become a Certified Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer.

Maintain Certification

In order to remain active in the program, Master Gardener℠ Volunteers must meet annual recertification requirements.

Annually in Rutherford, we require:

  • 20 hours of volunteer service and
  • 10 hours of continuing education.

Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteers:

    • Represent NC State Extension.
    • Promote the research-based recommendations of NC State Extension.
    • May only use the title “Master Gardener℠ Volunteer” when engaged in Extension-sponsored activities.