Become a Master Gardener

Become a Master Gardener - Recruiting for the 2024 Class.
The next class begins Wednesday, January 31, 2024, and is projected to run through May.

Classes meet each Wednesday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm for 16 weeks through May 2024 (one week off).  Our class will meet in person in room 503, or in our Discovery Gardens Pavilion, depending upon the topic, on our UA, Sierra Vista campus, 1140 N. Colombo, Sierra Vista.  

Would you like to become a Master Gardener?  Are you interested in becoming more knowledgeable by receiving university-level training in horticulture?  Do you have the passion, the commitment, and the willingness to serve your community by providing a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service your first year, and 25 hours yearly thereafter?  Are you willing to assist Cooperative Extension by providing educational information to the community on home gardening and landscaping? If you can answer yes to these questions, we would love to have you join our ranks.

If you are interested in applying for the Master Gardener Class and would like to be placed on the 2024 student list, please call Jan Groth, 520-559-7078.  To complete the form click the link below.  Please do not hesitate to call Jan with any questions you might have.

To become a Master Gardener in Cochise County you must complete the formal Master Gardener training in Cochise County, and then complete 50 volunteer hours within 12 months of graduation to become certified. After that, there is an annual requirement of 25 volunteer hours and 12 continuing education hours per fiscal year to remain certified.  Don't let the 50 hours scare you!  It's amazing how quickly you can accumulate 50 hours by engaging in various activities.  Many students almost complete their 50 hours before the class series is even finished.  Plus, our students say they learn almost as much volunteering as they did during class time!

Course content includes current science-based information on topics such as basic botany, soils, plant nutrition/fertilization, planting techniques, pruning, water use & irrigation, vegetables, fruit tree care, ornamental trees and shrubs, native & desert-adapted plants, insects, integrated pest management, plant diseases, pesticide safety, and basic landscape concept discussion.

Master Gardeners are representatives of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. In all volunteer work related to the program, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of the UA Cooperative Extension.

Applicants should want to learn more about gardening in the high desert, enjoy meeting others with similar gardening interests, enjoy sharing knowledge with others in your community, and have time to meet the requirements in volunteer and continuing education. Submitted applications must be received in the Cooperative Extension Office, U of A Sierra Vista by Monday, January 29, 2024. A maximum of 28 applicants can be accepted due to space limitations and are considered in the order they are received. 

There are 2 levels of Master Gardener Class cost.  Level A is $175.00 which includes a textbook, a commitment for 50 hours of community volunteer work, and a shirt and name badge once the 50 hours are completed and certification is awarded.  Level B is $275.00 which includes the textbook only ... no volunteer hours are required, and no shirt or badge is issued.  The course fee is a cost recovery fee and covers the cost of a University-produced textbook and the projected costs of materials.

The primary purposes of the volunteer work are 1) to further the personal education of the student, and 2) to provide science-based horticultural information to the community. Some examples of volunteer work, but not limited to, are:

  • answer questions from the public in the Cooperative Extension office.
  • give talks, demonstrations, etc. to groups.
  • share horticulture information at plant clinics, festivals, farmers' markets, etc.
  • assist students and teachers in school gardens.
  • provide horticultural advice to individuals, groups, and establishments.
  • assist with or plan educational programs and workshops such as our School Field Trip program and our MG hands-on workshops.
  • write articles for the monthly Master Gardener Newsletter.
  • participate in the ongoing development and maintenance of the Discovery Gardens at UA Sierra Vista, our demonstration gardens which showcase a wide variety of native and desert adapted plants, planting methods, irrigation methods, theme gardens, vegetable gardening methods, hardscape, rainwater harvesting, solar lighting, etc.
  • work with the Rose Team in the Rose Garden.
  • work with the Patterson Observatory garden team.
  • assist with our School Field Trip program.
  • assist with our Seed Library.

What really sets Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture. In exchange for their training, persons who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their Extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their communities. The type of service done by Master Gardeners varies according to community needs, and the abilities and interests of the Master Gardeners.

The Master Gardener Program began in King and Pierce Counties of Washington State in 1972 by Dr. David Gibby, an exhausted county Horticultural Extension Agent, who realized that he could multiply his resources by training amateur gardeners, who in return, would help answer the overwhelming questions that came into his office.

The program became a huge success, and today there are Master Gardener Programs in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian Provinces.  Cochise County Extension Agent Dr. Deborah Young started the Cochise County program in 1987.

If you are unable to commit the volunteer time to the Master Gardener program but want to participate in the training, there is an alternate option at an increased fee. 

For more information on the Master Gardener Program please contact Jan Groth, Coordinator at: 

Phone:  520-559-7078

Office address: Cochise County Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona Sierra Vista, 1140 N. Colombo, Sierra Vista, AZ  85635