skip to content
Survey Header Image

UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County Volunteer Application

UCCE Sonoma County Survey Header Image

UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County- Volunteer Application Form


Applications for the 2022 Training Class MUST be received by 5:00 p.m. September 24, 2021

If you are committed to sharing and teaching information to others, the Master Gardeners of Sonoma County offer you the opportunity to learn and to use your knowledge of gardening to serve the community.

The UC Master Gardener Program is a volunteer organization that is dedicated to providing environmentally sustainable, science-based horticultural education to Sonoma County home gardeners. Master Gardeners of Sonoma County have a deep commitment to community service and are willing to volunteer as agents of the University of California Cooperative Extension. We strongly encourage BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) applicants. We aim to have a volunteer force as diverse as the residents of Sonoma County.

If accepted in the UC Master Gardener Training Program in Sonoma County, trainees must:

  • Comply with University of California and Sonoma County Health Department guidelines associated with COVID-19.
  • Attend ALL training classes one day per week to be determined January through May. There may be one class held on Saturday. Some classes may be held electronically (via Zoom). Training classes are conducted in English. 
  • Complete six hours of training at the UCCE Information Desk to be able to answer inquiries from the public. This training is individually scheduled during February and March, and is in addition to the training classes mentioned above.
  • Be fingerprinted and pass a Department of Justice (DOJ) background investigation. (If your California residency is fewer than two years, an FBI background screening will be conducted instead of the DOJ background investigation.) Fingerprinting must be done no later than December 31, 2021. Details will be presented to you at your interview.
  • By June 30, 2023, volunteer for and report at least 50 hours on approved Master Gardener activities. These hourly requirements are fulfilled by working at the Information Desk and on approved Master Gardener projects.
  • Volunteer each year after the first year for at least 25 hours per year on approved Master Gardener volunteer activities, plus complete at least 12 hours of approved continuing education.

The non-refundable fee for the classes is $285.00. The fee will be collected after you are accepted as a trainee. Limited scholarships are available. If you are accepted, you will be informed about how to apply for assistance. You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application.

To be considered for acceptance, you must attend one orientation meeting either Monday, October 4, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. or Tuesday, October 5, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Avenue, Santa Rosa. At this meeting, the Master Gardener organization and requirements will be fully explained. If you have questions about the required orientation meeting, please call the Master Gardener Coordinator at (707)565-2880.

Your in-person interview will be scheduled on a date between October 18 and October 25. TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE CLASS OF 2022, YOU MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR IN-PERSON INTERVIEW DURING THIS TIME. NO EXCEPTIONS.

PLEASE NOTE: Interviews will be held at the UC Cooperative Extension office, 133 Aviation Boulevard #109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. Selection of members for the new training class will take place by the end of October, and you will be notified of the results by the first week of November.

Most, if not all, communication to members of the Training Class will be via email. Vital documents for the Training Class members will also be available online; therefore, it is critical that candidates for the Master Gardener Program have computer aptitude and accessibility.

FAQs about the UC Master Gardener Program

What is the Master Gardener Program?

The UC Master Gardener program is certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension in the areas of home gardening and horticulture. Since 1981, the UC Master Gardener program has been training volunteers to provide science-based horticultural information to residential gardeners in Sonoma County.

Who becomes a Master Gardener?

Master Gardeners are people of all ages and from all walks of life and represent communities and neighborhoods throughout the county. Although some knowledge of plants and gardening is an asset, successful Master Gardeners are people willing to learn, willing to volunteer, and willing to be involved. Master Gardeners are well trained and enthusiastic individuals capable of imparting their knowledge to diverse groups of people in a wide range of community settings.

What training do Master Gardeners receive?

Master Gardener trainees participate in a training program comprised of instruction in sustainable plant science and horticulture covering such topics as soils, fertilizers, irrigation, weeds, diseases, insects and other pests, fruit and landscape trees, vegetables, xeriscaping, firewise landscaping and more. Each trainee receives The California Master Gardener Handbook, as well as other UCCE publications.  Trainings are conducted in English. 

Classes are taught by experts in their fields including Cooperative Extension Advisors and specialists from the University of California at Berkeley and Davis, local community college faculty, and other knowledgeable resource people.

What is the Master Gardener’s commitment to the program?

After completing the training and passing a written exam, First-Year Master Gardeners are required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service their first year. Master Gardener trainees are selected on the basis of their ability to fulfill this commitment and their willingness to participate in ongoing community outreach and training programs. In order to retain the title of Master Gardener in ensuing years, Master Gardeners must complete 12 hours of continuing education per year and perform 25 hours of volunteer service per year. Active Master Gardeners generally volunteer considerably more than the required minimum number of hours.

How do Master Gardeners earn volunteer hours?

  • Answer inquiries from the public at our UCCE Information Desk, and staff information tables at community fairs and farmers’ markets
  • Provide consultation and education events at community gardens, school gardens
  • Develop curriculum and/or teach workshops
  • Manage social media platforms for community and educational outreach
  • Write articles for internal communications and community publications
  • Assist with various committees that run our organization’s programs

What kinds of things are NOT eligible for MG volunteer hours?

  • Physical labor (such as digging, weeding, etc.) generally does not count as volunteer hours except in certain rare assignments pre-approved by the MG staff.
  • Starting a garden club, or a local chapter of a gardening organization.
  • Any work with a for-profit company.
  • Advising commercial gardeners (any person or agency that is selling what they grow or selling their gardening services).
  • Visits to and work in individual backyards or private properties. We don’t allow MGs to visit individual backyards or person properties as part of their volunteer service.

Can I add a “Master Gardener” reference to my business card?

The title “Master Gardener,” as well as the UCCE Master Gardener Program name badge, may be used only by appointed Master Gardener volunteers and only when they are in the course and scope of their UCCE Master Gardener volunteer activities. The title may not be used for commercial purposes. However, the training, experience, and certification gained by individuals in the UCCE Master Gardener Program may be referenced as personal qualifications, for example, when seeking employment.

What is the Cooperative Extension?

The University of California Cooperative Extension is part of a nationwide program established by an act of Congress in 1914 as part of the Land Grant University in every state. Three levels of government participate in funding Cooperative Extension programs: federal (through the USDA) provides a portion of the budget; state (through the universities) pays for statewide programs; and, county provides housing and operating expenses for local Cooperative Extension offices. The University of California Cooperative Extension works in cooperation with federal and county governments to provide local educational programs throughout California.

The mission of the University of California Cooperative Extension is to develop, extend, and bring about the use of research-based knowledge to improve specific practices and technologies. In addition, Cooperative Extension makes practical information generally available. Cooperative Extension has research support and organizational capacity in agriculture and natural resources, in family and consumer science, in community resource development, and in youth development.

University of California county staff (Advisors) are located in county Cooperative Extension offices in nearly every county in California. County Advisors extend knowledge, conduct field research, and provide leadership in selected Cooperative Extension program areas.

By completing the questions below and submitting the answers/information, you are agreeing to the following:

I understand that, if accepted, I will not become a certified Master Gardener until I satisfactorily complete the training course, score at least 70% on the examination, and fulfill the first-year Master Gardener requirements of 50 volunteer hours on approved Master Gardener activities by June 30, 2023. To remain in the Master Gardener program, each year I must complete 25 hours of volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education. I must submit monthly records of my volunteer hours. I also understand that there is a nonrefundable training fee of $285.00. I am committed to community service in Sonoma County, and am willing to act as an agent of the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Please complete the following application and click the “Submit” button. You will receive an email confirmation that your application has been submitted, and you will also be provided with a link to your application where you can edit your responses, if needed, no later than September 24, 2021 by 5:00 p.m.


Information we need to meet Federal reporting requirements (submission of this information is optional):






In compliance with the California Information Practices Act of 1977, the following information is provided: The information on this form is being requested by the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) for use in the UCCE Master Gardener Program. The individual completing this form may make inquiries concerning use of the information collected and may ask to review the form as well as other non-confidential personal information maintained on record by contacting the local UCCE County Director, Advisor, Program Coordinator or the statewide Director of the UC Master Gardener Program at: UC Master Gardener Program, 2801 Second Street, Davis, CA 95618-7779.


Information on this form is being requested under the authority of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 covering Cooperative Extension activities and Article IX, Section 9 of the State of California Constitution covering the University of California. Ethnic information is requested to maintain compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and sex information is requested to maintain compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Statistical information on this form is being collected to satisfy the US Department of Agriculture Extension Service reporting requirement for Affirmative Action and the Federal Affirmative Action Program Report. Statistical information includes sex, ethnic information and residence location. Submission of the above noted information is voluntary and if the information is not submitted by the source, the county Master Gardener staff may use his or her judgment to complete the information and satisfy Federal reporting requirements. Other personal information on this form is being collected to provide the County Extension Master Gardener staff with information to assist in program planning. This information consists of name, address, phone and email in addition to your skill set assessment.


The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) prohibits discrimination against or harassment of any person in any of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy related to childbirth), physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), genetic information (including family medical history), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, status as a protected veteran or service in the uniformed services (as defined by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 [USERRA]), as well as state military and naval services. University policy is intended to be consistent with the provisions of applicable State and Federal laws. Inqu