2021 Master Gardener Volunteer


How do I become a Certified Master Gardener Volunteer?

Please visit the Wisconsin Master Gardener website to learn about recent changes to the Master Gardener Volunteer Program (MGV).

Dane County is no longer offering the Level I MGV course at the local level. Although people interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer can take any of the Green Thumb Gardening series towards fulfilling their horticulture training requirement. The classes recommended for those interested in becoming a MGV have been specially packaged and at a discounted price. You are not required to take any of them, however, you are required to sign up for a required orientation session. All classes for the foreseeable future will be online, with some in-person labs as the COVID situation permits. More information on classes and orientation is below.

Onboarding for MGV Certification 

For the certification process, there is a 12-15 hour ‘onboarding’ session that focuses on becoming a volunteer with Extension. It will be offered January-March annually, and feature online training with some live instruction and some videos. Contact the Wisconsin Master Gardener Outreach Program Manager Mike Maddox and/or Amy Freidig at mike.maddox@wisc.edu and akfreidig@wisc.edu for more information about certifying as a MGV.

Required Volunteer Hours

At the successful conclusion of onboarding, you will be ready to volunteer. In Dane County, the first year, for your 24 minimum required volunteer hours you will need to:

  • 12 hours in the Teaching Garden as part of a team in one of the 12 garden areas (you get to choose your area) https://dane.extension.wisc.edu/horticulture/teaching-garden/
  • 4 hours at a local food pantry garden, community garden, church garden, West Madison Ag Station Garden or a school garden,
  • 3 hours at a local Farmers Market (we have MGV booths at 6 markets) shadowing certified MGVs as they answer gardening questions
  • 5 elective hours at any of a number of approved locations that you can view in the Online Reporting System. If you are differently abled and certain activities might not work for you, let me know and we will work that out

In following years, you have more flexibility to volunteer where you would like, within the approved sites. Many MGVs like to volunteer at Olbrich, the Arboretum, the Zoo, Allen Centennial Gardens, city or county parks, Monona Terrace Rooftop Garden, the MAMGA prairie at Lake Farm Park, and the Teaching Garden as some examples. Other give presentations, answer questions on our Horticulture Helpline (via phone or email), volunteer at the Farmers Markets, do research, volunteer with MAMGA (more on that below) or other activities.

In 2021 all sites must follow all COVID related rules as set forward by UW Madison Extension. Click here for COVID approval form. All Sites even approved ones require this form to be completed. Click here for the list of approved volunteer sites.

Classes recommended for potential Master Gardener Volunteers

Master Gardener Volunteer Preparatory Package is designed to provide volunteers with a solid foundation in many aspects of horticulture to assist in their community service activities. Click here to register for or for more information on the Dane County Master Gardener Volunteer Preparatory Package.

Online classes will be offered consisting of 22 sessions on the following dates:

  • January 11 Vegetable Garden Planning and Techniques
  • January 25 Seed Starting
  • February 1 Vegetable Diseases
  • February 8 Vegetable Insects
  • March 9 Fruit Tree Pruning
  • March 16 Shade and Ornamental Tree Pruning and Tree Planting
  • March 23 Shrub Pruning
  • April 6 Soils, Soil Testing and Fertilizers
  • April 27 Plant Propagation Without Seeds
  • May 3 Insects in the Garden
  • May 10 Fruit Tree Care
  • May 24 AND May 26 Diseases in the Garden
  • June 7 Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries
  • June 14 Healthy Houseplants
  • June 21 Attracting and Managing Wildlife in the Garden
  • June 28 Weed ID and Management
  • July 12 Shade Perennials
  • July 19 Perennials for Sun
  • August 9 Growing and Designing With Annuals
  • August 11 Native Plants and Pollinators
  • August 16 Lawn Care
  • September 1 Invasive Plants: ID and Management

Click here for All Class Descriptions

Note: Some classes/labs are offered in person with limited space in accordance with COVID Guidelines.

Register for Orientation

Required Orientation session: If interested in taking the MGV recommended classes package and you intend to become a MGV, a one-hour orientation session is required. For 2021, this will be online. Sign up for a session here.

How Do I Keep My Certification Annually?

  • Each year after you are certified complete 24 hours of volunteer  service (volunteer hours due Dec 31) after the initial year.
  • Complete 10 hours of continuing education due the same date.
  • Volunteer for core projects including:
    • School Gardens
    • Farmer’s Markets
    • Community Gardens
    • Extension Teaching Garden
  • Additional volunteer hours can be completed programs such as Garden Expo, UW Arboretum, Dane County Extension, Olbrich Gardens, or other volunteer opportunities.
  • In 2021 all sites must follow all COVID related rules as set forward by UW Madison Extension. Click here for COVID approval form. All Sites even approved ones require this form to be completed. Click here for the list of approved volunteer sites.


Madison Area Master Gardener Association (MAMGA)

MGV Associations Memberships:


Continuing Education

Approved Resources for Master Gardener Continuing Education (CE)

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