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Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer Program

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The NC State Extension Master Gardener℠ program recruits, trains, and engages people to serve as volunteer educators who strengthen Extension’s delivery of science-based horticultural knowledge to North Carolinians.

Mission: Connecting people to horticulture through science-based education and outreach.

Vision: To be the trusted source of science-based information that empowers North Carolinians to cultivate healthy plants, landscapes, ecosystems and communities.


  • Connect people to plants
  • Teach gardening best practices to community members
  • Share the latest research-based recommendations for healthy landscapes and gardens

If you live in North Carolina, love working as a team with other volunteers, and wish to share your knowledge and skills to promote science-based, sustainable gardening practices, consider applying to be trained as a Master Gardener℠ volunteer in New Hanover County!

The Extension Master Gardener℠ program of New Hanover County has more than 200 members who volunteer thousands of hours each year, providing information to the community and helping make the Arboretum gardens beautiful.

In addition to answering questions in the Plant Clinic, Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers provide gardening education and outreach to groups and community organizations; lead private tours of the Arboretum; help maintain the demonstration gardens by planting, weeding, mulching, and pruning; and hold major plant sales that help fund educational projects at the Arboretum. The association also has monthly meetings with educational speakers.

Classes for those who want to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer are conducted each year in January through March. If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener volunteer, call (910-798-7680) or visit the Plant Clinic at the NHC Arboretum to be put on a list for future classes.

If accepted into the program, you will complete a 60-hour training course taught by Extension staff and local experts. As a Master Gardener volunteer student, you will learn about soils, plant nutrients, insects, plant diseases, integrated pest management, lawn and landscape care, food production, herbaceous and woody plants, and more. The Extension Gardener Handbook is the training curriculum for the Extension Master Gardener℠ program of New Hanover County and available to the public free online as well as for purchase as a hardback book or interactive self-study e-book.

After training, students continue to learn by completing a 50-hour internship to become certified Extension Master Gardener volunteers. Thereafter, volunteers commit to annual volunteer service hours and continuing education requirements to remain active in the program. Volunteer service opportunities include teaching youth and adults science-based gardening practices, cultivating community gardens and teaching gardens that demonstrate best practices, and providing advice to new gardeners to help them garden more successfully.

Become a volunteer


We welcome all.

  • We value diversity in our volunteers, gardens, and communities.
  • We respect each individual’s experiences, needs, and learning style.
  • We nurture a culture of mutual respect, professionalism, and appreciation.

 We work together.

  • We strengthen our impact by collaborating with local and statewide community partners. 
  • We seek perspectives from all parts of the community.
  • We transfer knowledge from the land-grant university system to our communities.

 We make a difference.

  • We connect people with the benefits of gardening through science-based information. 
  • We recommend practical solutions that protect and enhance our environment.
  • We are life-long learners who serve, grow, and have fun.