How to Become a Volunteer
Gardening Experience Is the Start
What is a Master Gardener Volunteer?
Master Gardeners (MGs) are trained horticulturists who volunteer their time to provide free advice to home gardeners. Master Gardeners are required to give balanced, non-judgmental advice in compliance with the recommendations set out by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Master Gardeners will not imply the endorsement of any product or place of business in their recommendations.
Volunteers are Master Gardeners in Training (MGiT) for at least the first two years of membership. During this time they usually complete the educational requirements unless they have previous qualifications.
Because Master Gardeners and Master Gardeners in Training commit to continuously updating their knowledge, they are known for providing reliable information.
Benefits of volunteering
· satisfaction in helping others
· learning experience
· sense of achievement
· useful experience for a resume
What MGs do...
Volunteers provide reliable and accurate information to the local public at in-person clinics and by telephone and email. They may set up educational displays and give classes or workshops. Topics might include home fruit and vegetable production, including planting, fertilizing, cultivation and pest management; planting and care of perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs and lawns; management and control of plant pests and diseases.
Volunteers record hours worked and topics and number of questions asked. The Master Gardener Coordinating Committee and/or the local Coordinator may assign other duties. Volunteers are responsible to the Master Gardener Coordinating Committee and/or the coordinator of that area.
The Volunteer Commitment
Master Gardener duties are determined by the volunteer and the local coordinating committee. Activities must be information-oriented rather than physical labour and should reflect the needs of the community. Each volunteer must contribute a minimum of 30 hours of service each year.
Advice hours - 20 hours per year
This is the time spent in direct contact with the public including activities such as
· lecturing to a group
· writing articles for publication in newspapers or fact sheets
· responding to specific requests made to the Master Gardener group
· giving garden clinics/demonstrations
· providing horticultural information to hospitals, nursing homes, YMCA, therapy programs
· teaching classes / conducting workshops
· distributing of a speaker list to organizations, schools, OMAF etc.
Administrative duties – 10 hours per year
· attending local group meetings
· serving on provincial Master Gardener committees
· attending provincial Master Gardener meetings
· time spent preparing for lectures or clinics
How to Qualify
To qualify as a Master Gardener volunteer, you need a good basic knowledge of and interest in ornamental horticulture and general home gardening. As well, you must pass an eligibility test.
Master Gardeners in Training (MGiTs) must successfully complete an educational component and also complete the required annual volunteer hours for two years before they become certified as Master Gardeners.
See Education for details on the educational requirements.
The title "Master Gardener" should be used in all dealings with the public during periods of volunteer work authorized by the coordinating committee. When the volunteer is not on duty as a Master Gardener, then he/she should not use the title Master Gardener to signify authority.
An MG who works in a garden-related business is free to indicate his/her membership in the MG program while on the job. An MG who owns or works for a business must not solicit work for that business while volunteering as an MG.
Implied or specific endorsement of any product is improper.
All advice given by Master Gardener Volunteers when working under the authorization of the coordinating committee must be in accordance with present Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc guidelines. Recommendations are to be based on unbiased information.