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Become a Master Gardener

Characteristics: Master Gardeners are enthusiastic, willing to learn and help others, and able to communicate with diverse groups of people. Previous gardening experience and/or education is common, although not a prerequisite. Every effort will be made to accommodate everyone who applies; however, there may not be enough slots for all applicants as training classes are limited in size.

Training: Classes are taught by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Advisors and other horticulture specialists. The program offers an intensive, practical course in plant science and horticulture. Classes include: introduction to horticulture, soil and plant nutrition, pests and diseases and their control, plant management, and diagnosis of plant problems. Training takes place over several months (January through May) and is adapted to local needs and the local environment.


Commitment: In exchange for training, you will be required to volunteer some of your time to your county Cooperative Extension program and your community. You will be supported by the Master Gardener staff and UCCE Advisors.

Certification: Certified Master Gardeners have participated in the training program and passed an exam based on the material presented.  After completing the training classes, the new Master Gardener must volunteer 50 hours of their time during the the following program year.  After the first year, Master Gardeners maintain their certification status by performing a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer service and completing 12 hours of continuing educational hours annually.  Ongoing educational programs, such as seminars, training sessions, field trips, and garden tours are offered on a regular basis to help Master Gardeners fulfill their required educational credits.

Activities: Under the supervision of the UCCE Horticulture Advisor, the UC Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County serve the community through their telephone and email Helpline, demonstration projects at local gardens, school gardening programs, seminars and educational programs, informational booths at Farmers Markets and other community events.  Master Gardeners receive volunteer credit for time spent participating in approved activities. Through their involvement in these programs, Master Gardeners are providing education and service to the community and continuing horticulture enrichment for members.

Program Facts: Master Gardeners are educational agents of the University of California Cooperative Extension and as such are covered by University-provided liability insurance.  Candidates selected for Master Gardener training are required to successfully complete a DOJ background screening process that includes fingerprinting at their own cost.  Master Gardeners must follow the research and recommendations of the University of California Cooperative Extension. The title Master Gardener can only be used by those who are serving as agents of the University of California and not for personal gain or advancement. However, the title and certification may be used on resumes or applications as a valid credential.

For questions, please leave call the Master Gardener Helpline at 805-893-3485 or send an email to anrmgsb@ucanr.edu.