Master Gardener Information

The Purdue Master Gardener Program is “Helping Others Grow.” The program provides gardeners with intensive education in horticultural principles. The instruction is provided without charge, however, there is a fee for supplies which become your personal reference collection. Participants who successfully complete the program and, thereafter, donate an equal number of volunteer hours in community gardening services are certified as Master Gardeners. Yearly donation of time is expected to maintain certification.

The original Extension Master Gardener program was created in 1972 in Seattle in response to the overwhelming demand for home gardening information. Indiana’s program began in 1978 with Marion and three other participating counties. Currently, about 77 Indiana counties have active Extension Master Gardener programs.

In Indiana, the Master Gardener Program is conducted by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service through local Extension offices. In Marion County the program is coordinated by Steve Mayer, who teaches and facilitates the course.

Why Should You Become a Master Gardener?

You’ll always have the opportunity to grow in several ways when you become a Master Gardener. After satisfying the requirements for volunteer activity, the ways you grow and how far you go are up to you!

  1. The training sessions will increase your knowledge of a wide array of gardening subjects.
  2. This increased knowledge will give you the skills and confidence to teach others in your community what you know about gardening, either one-on-one or in group settings.
  3. Sharing your gardening knowledge with your neighbors will give you a great way to become more involved in improving the quality of life in your community.
  4. And you’ll be able, if you wish, to use the training and experience in leadership you’ve gotten through your activities in the Master Gardener Program as a springboard to other forms of community leadership.

What Training Will You Get?

If you are accepted into the Master Gardener Program, you will receive training in the following areas:

Soil Science
Plant Propagation
Identification and Control of Insect Pests
Weed Identification
Annuals & Perennials
Vegetable Gardening
Planting & Pruning
Plant Nutrition
Plant Science
Identification and Control of Plant Diseases
Pesticide Safety
Woody Perennials
Lawn Care

What Will it Cost You to Become an Extension Master Gardener?

Purdue University staff and other speakers provide instruction free of charge. Your only expense will be a fee for publications and supplies which will become a part of your personal reference collection. Currently, the cost is $150 per person. However, persons from the same household may share their major materials for an additional $75. This price is subject to change.

Applications and payment must be received together. There are no on-line application materials available at this time. Receipt of an application and payment does not guarantee acceptance for the Master Gardener training.

Refreshments are provided at the first and last sessions as a part of the fee. Refreshments for other sessions are provided by those class members choosing to do so.

What Do You Get?

Each participant or household gets their own set of over 175 horticulture related publications and two binders to hold them plus additional information. In addition, there are numerous handouts provided in class as well as picture sets and materials from Purdue University and other universities.

What are the Requirements of the Master Gardener Program?

When you’ve been accepted into a training program, you should make every attempt to attend the series of classes, each lasting about 3 hours. You may miss a maximum of 3 classes. After completing the training, you will be examined over the material covered and must receive a score of 70% to become a Master Gardener Intern.

You must then do 35 hours of community service to your community. This can consist of such services as answering garden questions, conducting garden schools, working on approved community beautification projects, or assisting in other public education-related activities. Credit for Master Gardener activities are limited to those associated with public facilities only or for public not-for-profit organizations. Homeowner association projects do not qualify.

When you have passed your exam and completed your volunteer commitment, you will be certified as a Purdue Extension Master Gardener. You will be required to complete 12 hours of volunteer service annually AND receive 6 hours of educational training annually to maintain your Master Gardener status once you are certified.