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Washington State University

Become a Master Gardener

What is a Master Gardener?

Master Gardener students examining a leaf specimenMaster Gardeners are community educators trained to work in partnership with WSU Extension to teach the public and enhance the quality of life in the community by promoting sound gardening practices with research-based information.

The Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program for people with a passion for plants, a drive to learn, and a commitment to serve. Candidates for the program may or may not have experience or knowledge about horticulture, but all have a desire to learn. By signing up to join the program, you are committing to serving the community as a gardening/horticulture educator. Trainees develop the skills and knowledge to become effective community educators on plants, plant communities, pests and much more.

Trainees receive over 60 hours of college-level, WSU-certified training. Lectures and labs are taught by university faculty/staff, local and state experts, and Master Gardeners. After trainees pass the final exam, they complete 60 hours of volunteer time as intern-trainees, assisting the public in solving their home gardening problems and answering questions. Upon completion of these hours, they become Certified WSU Master Gardeners and maintain certification with continuing education and annual volunteering of a lesser number of volunteer hours.

Topics include:

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

Tuition for the Master Gardener training is $375. Study materials are included. Volunteer trainees must also complete a national background check through Sterling Volunteers at a cost to the applicant of $14.

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


Classes will be held in-person at Whatcom County Public Works – Garden Room (322 N. Commercial St., Bellingham, WA). Field trip and outdoor sessions will be announced.


MG holding a flower
Time commitment

The process to becoming a Master Gardener starts with intensive 12-week classroom 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 course has online components of chapter readings and quizzes, and a final exam. Participation is mandatory.




















































































































































This class is now closed for 2023.

Master Gardener Training Application (pdf)

This training takes place in early 2023!
A browser or a third-party app (such as Adobe Acrobat) may be required to fill out electronically; otherwise, print out form or pick-up an application at our office.

To submit this application:

1) Save this PDF
2) Email it as an attachment to:
1) Print the application
2) Mail or drop it off at WSU Whatcom Extension office.
 600 Dupont Street, Suite A, Bellingham, WA 98229


Application deadline in Whatcom County is November 30, 2022 – for training which begins in February 2023.


Mid-September: Applications available
Fall registration opens
October 7, 2022: Open House and Q&A
October – November: Interviews and open house info sessions
November 30, 2022: Application due
December: Fees due


January: Online course opens
February – April: Class sessions
(9:30am–3pm, Thursdays, Feb 2 – Apr 20)
May – September: Volunteer internship
October 2023: Graduation Certification


Master Gardener Program

Cultivating plants, people and communities since 1973.


Program Contact:

Beth Chisholm, Program Coordinator
(360) 778-5811


Master Gardener Training Application (pdf)
A browser or a third-party app (such as Adobe Acrobat) may be required to fill out electronically; otherwise, print out form or pick-up an application at our office.


Program Priorities Map

Helpful Resources:


Upcoming Events:

Partial map of Hovander Gardens

Hovander Demonstration Gardens Brochure





To become a Certified Master Gardener, applicants must complete:

    • 60-hour training which includes all quizzes via the online course, labs and a few Saturday field trips.
    • Score 80% or better on the final exam
    • Complete 60 hours of volunteer time as an MG intern (May – September)
    • Professional Horticulture option available (Coursework without volunteer commitment)

For more information, please contact:
Beth Chisholm, Master Gardener Coordinator, (360) 778-5811,

Learn more about the statewide program at:

Applicants should note that MG Trainees are WSU volunteers and are thereby subject to the Governor’s Proclamation 21-14.1 Governor’s Proclamation 21-14.1 “COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement” as well as any other COVID protocols required by the state, WSU, Whatcom County, and any other applicable local authority. All COVID-19 protocols will be followed.