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Master Gardener Program

Program Contact: Cori Carlton, Master Gardener & Master Recycler Composter Program Manager
(360) 867-2162 •

Come Grow with the WSU Master Gardeners of Thurston County

A volunteer service gardening organization – cultivating plants, people, and communities since 1973.

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2018 Upcoming Events and Activities….


WSU Thurston County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training Information

Next to digging in the dirt, there’s almost nothing gardeners enjoy more than learning about their favorite plants. One of the easiest ways to increase your gardening knowledge and give back to the community is to enroll in WSU Extension’s Master Gardener volunteer training. For forty five years, Washington State University Extension has been training Master Gardener volunteers in the science and art of gardening.

The WSU Master Gardener course provides WSU research-based information on how to improve soil, identify common plant pest problems including insects and diseases and weed problems, as well as honing your gardening skills. “Hands-on” workshops provide advanced training on pruning, composting, plant propagation and a host of other practical gardening skills.

There is a misperception that to become a WSU Master Gardener you must know everything about gardening. To be a WSU Thurston County Master Gardener you must have gardening experience, but more importantly you must commit to sharing accurate gardening information with our community.

The purpose of the WSU Master Gardener training program is to prepare you to do gardening-related volunteer service in our local communities. Volunteers who are part of the comprehensive core training course will learn the latest information on how to successfully grow their favorite ornamentals, veggies, fruit, and a whole lot more. After completing WSU Master Gardener core training, graduates agree to perform 60 hours of approved volunteer activities before earning the WSU Master Gardener title. Volunteers can choose from a wide array of activities, suited to individual tastes and talents, to satisfy this requirement.

2019 WSU Thurston County Master Gardener Training Details

We only train once a year from January – June. Applicants accepted into the WSU Master Gardener volunteer training program participate in 21 weeks of classes in person and at home by using the on-line training program. Our in person trainings will happen from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on alternating Friday’s. The location will either be a training room in Lacey or on a field trip. Training dates are listed in the application. Exact location and further details will be given upon acceptance into the program.

To be accepted into the program you must meet the application criteria AND attend a pre-orientation session. Application criteria will be reviewed at the pre-orientation session. Attending a pre-orientation session will help you determine if becoming a WSU Master Gardener volunteer is a good fit for you.

The 2019 PDF training packet can be downloaded here

2019 WSU Master Gardener Thurston County Training Application

Or the Word version

2019 WSU Master Gardener Thurston County Training Application

Or the training flier.

2019 WSU Master Gardener Volunteer Training Flier

Applications will be accepted on a first come basis until the class is full or by Friday, December 14, 2018. Don’t delay….apply today!

WSU Master Gardener Pre-Orientation Sessions for Thurston County

The WSU Master Gardener program requires a significant time commitment. At the pre-orientation you will learn what it takes to be a WSU Master Gardener volunteer. This includes program expectations as well as the benefits you will receive being a WSU Master Gardener. You only need to attend ONE of the following orientations. Pick one that works best with your schedule and location. No pre-registration needed, please just show up.

Pre-orientations held at the WSU Thurston County Extension office.
  • October 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • November 6 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • November 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • November 27 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • December 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • December 12 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The address for the WSU Extension office is 3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Olympia 98503. Our office is located inside the Thurston County Fairgrounds. Click here for building location and where to park.

WSU Extension Parking Map Fairgrounds

When onsite the Extension office is the brown building named “Benoschek” and it is located behind the building painted like a cow.


Pre-orientation held at the Tumwater Library Community Room
  • December 3 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The address for the Tumwater Library-7023 New Market St. SE, Tumwater 98501


Pre-orientation held at the Lacey Library Community Room
  • December 11 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The address for the Lacey Library-500 College St. SE, Lacey 98503


We look forward to meeting you at one of the pre-orientations!

For questions about the pre-orientations or training please contact Cori Carlton, Program Manager at 360-867-2162 or



Master Your: Garden, Compost, Recycling Education Day-Fall Edition

October 20, 2018 was a day filled with gardening, composting, recycling fun and information via workshops and hands-on demonstrations.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Location: The Salvation Army Community Center –  1505 4th Ave. E, Olympia 98501 (Plenty of street parking is available if parking lot fills.)

Admission: $5 per person (cash or check only, no credit cards please)


Click on the links below to view information and resources related to the following Workshop & Demonstration Topics:

15 Tips for Successfully Planting Bulbs

Soil vs. Dirt

Stump the Recycler-Can this Item be Recycled?

Growing Fall and Winter Vegetables

What to Prune in the Dormant Season

Food & Yard Waste Composting at Home

Tool Care, Repair and Ergonomics

How to Make Your Own Worm Composting Bin

Yoga Stretches for Gardeners


Informational Displays:

Proper planting advice

Bulb lasagna pots

Fall yard clean-up tips

Square foot gardening plans


Rain barrels

Gardening book recommendations

Question/answer booth

Free table (themed books, magazines, tools etc.)


Click here to download the event flier.

For further questions please contact, Cori Carlton at (360) 867-2162 or

This event was brought to you by the WSU Extension Master Gardeners of Thurston County, Thurston County Master Recycler Composter program and the Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County.



Do You Have a Gardening Question?

Do you have a plant eaten-up by bugs or diseases? Maybe you have a plant or weed you cannot identify? Or, you have a spot in your garden and you need advice on what to plant? That’s where the WSU Master Gardener and Master Recycler Composter volunteers of Thurston County can help. Come visit one of our Gardens or Clinics for the answers.

Gardening/Composting/Recycling Question/Answer Clinic –

Located inside the WSU Thurston County Extension office
3054 Carpenter Rd. SE
Benoscheck Building
Olympia, WA 98503
Phone: (360) 867-2163


Volunteers are scheduled to staff our question/answer clinic during the current hours of operation:

  • September through November the clinic is open Tuesday AND Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • The Extension office is closed on Mondays.

You have three options for asking your question:

  • Email us anytime day or night
  • Call us and speak to a certified volunteer during our office hours or leave a message and we’ll get back to you.
  • Visit us at our clinic located inside the WSU Extension office at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. We just ask that before showing up you call ahead to make sure a volunteer is there to assist you. Plant/insect samples may be dropped off anytime between 9am and 5pm Tuesday through Friday. Volunteers will process the samples during the next staffed shift.

The Gardens and Clinics are operated by WSU trained and certified volunteers. All services provided by Thurston County WSU Master Gardener and Master Recycler Composter volunteers are free to Thurston County residents. These volunteers can only provide information to home gardeners. Commercial farms and businesses need to contact Extension office for help, (360) 867-2162.

Learning/Demonstration Gardens

Dirt Works Demonstration and Composting Garden  Closed Loop Park  Olympia Farmers Market Garden                                                                            In Thurston County, WSU Master Gardener and Master Recycler Composter volunteers create and maintain three learning/demonstration gardens. These gardens provide inspiration and showcase scientifically proven gardening practices. For complete details visit our demonstration gardens page.


Do You Have a Composting Question?

Call our rot-line at (360) 867-2163 or email or attend one of our workshops. For more information click on this link to visit our Master Recycler Composter page.



Directions to WSU Thurston County Extension Office:

The WSU Extension office is located at 3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Olympia, WA 98503. Our office is located inside the Thurston County Fairgrounds.


Directions – Heading to Lacey on I-5 South:  Take Exit 109, turn left onto Martin Way. Take Martin Way to Carpenter Road. Turn right onto Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds will be on your left.
Directions – Heading to Lacey on I-5 North:  Take Exit 109, turn right onto Martin Way. Take Martin to Carpenter Road. Turn right onto Carpenter and follow approximately 3 miles to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds will be on your left.


Upon entering the Fairgrounds continue straight and drive past Heritage Hall on your right and the Expo Center on your left. The WSU Extension office is the brown building located behind the building painted like a cow. “Benoschek” is the name on the building where the WSU Extension office is located. The office entrance is located on the right side of the building closest to the east area field. Parking is available on the backside of Heritage Hall.





WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office. Persons will disabilities who require alternative means for communication or program information or reasonable accommodation need to contact Cori Carlton at 3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Olympia WA 98503, 360-867-2162, at least two weeks prior to the beginning of training.