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Become a WSU Master Gardener Volunteer

Program Contact: Caitlin Blethen, Master Gardener Program Coordinator
(360) 370-7663 •

Are you a gardener in San Juan County? Do you enjoy learning and sharing your knowledge with others? Have you just moved to the islands and want to get involved in the community and learn about gardening in our unique ecosystem? The WSU Extension San Juan County Master Gardener Volunteer program may be just what you are looking for!

The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to work in partnership with WSU Extension to teach research-based gardening and environmental stewardship practices to county residents, while at the same time learning, working and having fun with other like-minded volunteers.

Who Should Apply?

The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is open to all. Successful applicants have an enthusiasm for volunteer work, enjoy talking to people about gardening, and are life-long learners. You do not need extensive horticulture knowledge to be accepted into the class, just a passion for learning about gardening and sharing this knowledge with others.

Attention: All Trainees and WSU Extension Volunteers are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or have a WSU approved exemption with accommodation prior to starting training.

What Does the Training Involve?

Topics include:

    • Botany
    • Insects
    • Soils
    • Pesticide Safety
    • Garden Management
    • Landscape Ornamentals
    • Weed Control
    • Pruning
    • Plant Pathology
    • Sustainable Practices
    • Vegetable and Fruit Crops
    • and more!

Training focuses on familiarization with and learning how to use research-based resources to find and answer horticulture questions for the general public in a collaborative environment.


The cost of the Master Gardener training is $300 ($225 course fee and $75 online course material access fee)  – study materials are included. In order become Master Gardeners, trainees must submit to a national background check through Sterling Volunteers at a cost to the applicant of $14.00. Background checks must be renewed every two years, there are no other ongoing costs to be a volunteer.

Limited scholarships are available based on need. Contact Caitlin ( for more information.


Classes will be held remotely via Zoom with supplemental outdoor educational opportunities TBA.

Time commitment

The process to becoming a Master Gardener starts with intensive 9-week Zoom training, combined with hands-on training. Participants are asked to apply only if they can attend all class days. The training is academically rigorous and requires approximately 10-15 hours per week of class time and homework. The online course includes chapter readings, quizzes, and a final exam. Participation is mandatory.


To become a Certified Master Gardener, applicants must complete:

    • 60-hour training which includes all quizzes via the online course, labs and possibly Saturday field trips.
    • Score 80% or better on the final exam (open book).
    • Complete 40 hours of volunteer time as an MG intern (April – December).

Upon acceptance, Master Gardener Volunteer training begins with a 9-week course that combines lectures, group discussion, weekly assignments, and online study. Classes meet on Tuesdays from 9:00 – 4:00pm on Zoom. Trainees are expected to attend all class sessions.

Participants are expected to come prepared for class by reading the weekly assignments, watching online presentations and completing quizzes. All quizzes and exams are open book and can be re-taken. No memorization is required. The in-class time will feature guest speakers, hands-on activities, field trips and learning about Master Gardener program activities.

Access to the coursework is by computer so internet access and an email address are required. The primary mode of communication outside of the classroom is via email.

Volunteer Internship

After successful completion of the training, Master Gardener Interns volunteer 40 hours of community service in the following year to earn the title of Master Gardener. Volunteer activities include working alongside Veteran Master Gardeners at plant clinics, our Demonstration Gardens on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez, School gardens, our annual plant sale,  Gardening Workshop Series, and other projects. Mentors are assigned to groups of interns to answer questions and help complete the internship requirements.

Master Gardeners are re-certified each year by volunteering a minimum of 25 hours in San Juan County Master Gardener activities and taking 10 hours of continuing education classes.

Being a Master Gardener volunteer is a great way to gain horticultural knowledge, meet other gardeners, share gardening experiences, connect with the community, and belong to a well-respected educational organization. We hope you will join us!

Apply to become a Master Gardener in 2022

2020 San Juan County WSU Master Gardener Application

Form is fillable so be sure to save it, then print it.

The application form will be fillable; you can save it to your computer. Paper copies also available at our office.


Application deadline is has been extended to December 10, 2021  – for training which begins in January 2022. Applicants will be contacted for open house information sessions.

Once you have completed filling out your Master Gardener application, please send it to Caitlin Blethen San Juan County Master Gardener Program Coordinator at (this is preferred method) or mail completed application to:

WSU San Juan CountyExtension
221 Weber Way, Suite LL
Friday Harbor, WA  98250


October: Registration opens
December 10: Application due
December – January: Interviews


January 2022: Online course opens & fees due
January – March 2022: Class sessions
April – December : Volunteer internship

Training dates: Tuesdays January 25 to March 22 2022. 9am-4pm via Zoom.

Questions? Contact Caitlin Blethen at