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Become a Pierce County Master Gardener

 

So you are interested in becoming a Community Educator and Resource Connector?

WSU Extension Pierce County Master Gardeners are university trained community educators, dedicated to providing unbiased horticultural knowledge and resources.  As a Master Gardener you will receive an abundance of gardening knowledge to support your own learning and interests. You will also be a part of a large, diverse and enthusiastic gardening community. While these are incredible benefits to becoming a Master Gardener, the mission of a Master Gardener is to engage the Pierce County community through hands on, accessible and free horticultural education and resources. If this is something you’re passionate about please keep reading, we’d love to have you!

To become a Washington State University Master Gardener with Pierce County you must first apply to the Master Gardener Training Program. Applications and specific training information are posted on this page.

The 2023 WSU Extension Pierce County Master Gardener Volunteer Intern Application will be available on September 1, 2022


2023 MG Intern Training Application is due November 1, 2022

 

MG Training Information:

Format of the training:

The training includes virtual and in person classroom trainings in addition to online studies. The online study portion includes topic-based modules and open-book quizzes for each module through our Canvas Learning Platform. There is also an open-book final exam at the end of the training. You’ll need reliable computer access and be willing to learn new computer platforms.

What will I learn?

The training focuses on sustainable gardening practices through topics such as pest and soil management and water wise gardening techniques. It covers a wide range of gardening topics that include ornamental, vegetable and native plant gardening as well as community education and public speaking skills.

How many hours a week will I spend in the training?

The classroom sessions are 35 hours a week and require readings and assignments from home before each class. The online study equates to about 2-4 hours of study time a week for approximately 4 months.

What happens after the online course and training?

Once training is completed and you have passed your final exam you will need to complete 40-hours of volunteer time, which includes working at our demonstration gardens, staffing diagnostic clinics, an intern project, and working in the community. These hours need to be completed by the end of the calendar year. You’re required to access our electronic volunteer portal and log your hours.

In total, our Master Gardener Training Program amounts to approximately 150 hours of training and volunteering combined.

Once Master Gardeners complete their first year, they are required to contribute 25 hours of volunteer service and obtain 10 hours of continuing education annually to retain their certification. Every year our Master Gardeners submit 35 hours total and then re-apply for their certification electronically. As Master Gardeners you are allotted 1 year of leave if you should need it and you’re welcome to rejoin the community without retraining. If you should not retain your certification from year to year you are expected re-enroll in the training. It is important to us to support our educators with updated scientific information and community outreach soft skills trainings. Master Gardeners are a go-to community resource and we are proud of that.

What is the cost of the class?

The classroom portion of the training is $195 for those wishing to become a Master Gardener Volunteer or $500 for those who do not wish to become a Master Gardener Volunteer but instead only want to attend the class to receive a certificate of completion.

The online platform portion of the training is $75.

The mandatory national background check for those wishing to become a Master Gardener Volunteer is $14. Once admitted into the program, a background check will need to be completed every 3 years. WSU Master Gardeners are also required to show proof of COVID-19 Vaccination.

The Master Gardener manual can be downloaded for free, or you can purchase a physical manual for $125.

Is there financial assistance available?

Yes, a limited amount of financial assistance is available to those becoming Pierce County Master Gardeners.  The WSU Pierce County Master Gardener Program would like to thank the City of Tacoma Sustainability Small Grant program for covering 5-7 scholarships for City of Tacoma residents in 2021.  Please note that scholarships are not limited to Tacoma residents.

How do I apply?

The application to apply will be posted on this page when it is ready. Please check back at a later date. If you’d like email updates for our upcoming 2023 PCMG Training please submit this form and we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

PCMG Training Information Request

Please fill out this form to receive email updates about our upcoming Pierce County Master Gardener Training. Please check your spam folders for our emails, if you notice you're not receiving them.

Are you a WSU Master Gardener from another county in our state?

Certified WSU Master Gardener volunteers who change residence from another county to Pierce County are asked to obtain a letter of reference from the WSU Master Gardener Program coordinator in the previous county. This letter can be sent to the Pierce County Program Coordinator at jaala.smith@wsu.edu.

The letter must include:

  • The volunteer and program coordinator contact information
  • Testimonials of their commitment to the Master Gardener Program within that county
  • The year of they obtained their certification
  • The total volunteer hours of most recent year
  • Their current MG Status, background check and vaccination status

Once the letter is received and accepted by the Pierce County Program Coordinator, the Volunteer will be transferred to the Pierce County Give Pulse data base, receive an PCMG badge and will be paired with a Certified Pierce County Master Gardener to onboard them to the program. This person will mentor the new volunteer for the first year in the county and serve as a resource and support person.

Onboarding will include the following:
• Watch an orientation video to understand local program policies, activities, commitments, etc.
• Watch training videos on Give Pulse, and classes on the differences in climate and conditions between Pierce County and the previous place of residence.
• Receive a welcoming tour of our demonstration gardens and office clinic.

If the transferring volunteer has been inactive in their other program for more than one year, they are expected to apply to our WSU online training and complete all in-class training requirements in the new year.

If the Master Gardener is transferring from another state they are required to enroll in the WSU online training and complete all in-class training requirements to become
a WSU Master Gardener volunteer.


For questions about training, please contact the PCMG Program at pierce.mg@wsu.edu.

 

Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office. Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact Jim Kropf, WSU Pierce County Interim Director, at jakropf@wsu.edu or 253-445-4526  at least two months prior to the event.