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Master Gardeners enhance Colorado communities through outreach, education and environmental stewardship.

Become a Colorado Master Gardener   arrow

Growing Plants. Growing People.

The Colorado Master Gardener program is a unique intersection between University Horticulture expertise and community volunteers interested in educating locally.

Who are Colorado Master Gardeners?

We’re hands-on in educational school gardens, we’re helping grow food for local communities, and we’re passionate about pollinators. Some of us are tree-huggers, most of us are plant (and insect) lovers.

We all get that gardening here takes grit. Which is why we’re providing local expertise for Colorado’s diverse plants and people. We are Colorado Master Gardeners. Powered by Colorado State University.


Click on each step below to learn more.

STEP 1: Learn about our program

We’re looking for volunteers interested in education and outreach using research-based horticulture information. As a Master Gardener, you’ll be a CSU Extension volunteer giving back in your local community.

>> Check out our Mission & Vision, History & Annual Reports.

Newly accepted volunteers begin as Apprentices. This means you’re in-training to become a Master Gardener. We provide 10 weeks of core training courses that occur through hybrid instruction: online, live webinars (also recorded) and in-person when possible.

Following training, apprentices are encouraged to engage in local projects which vary widely. We require a 50-hour volunteer commitment your first year. There is a two-year Apprentice option that allows 60-hours to be completed over 2 years. Please note: We understand the barriers COVID-19 has placed on in-person volunteering. While we are offering creative volunteer opportunities, we are very flexible and understand these unique circumstances.

If you’re simply interested in hobby gardening (hey, we love it too!), we have other great avenues for you to consider including:

  • Certified Colorado Gardener Program which allows you to audit the Master Gardener courses – take the full training or a bundled short course. It’s a Colorado-specific horticulture training without the volunteer commitment.
  • Online Gardening Classes offered exclusively through CSU Online where you can earn a digital badge as a Certified Gardener or simply take one of 17 self-paced courses without an ongoing training commitment.

STEP 2: Find a program near you

Check out the counties currently offering the Master Gardener program. You’re encouraged to connect with a program in the county where you live. Applications are now open for counties accepting CMG Apprentices. Training for those accepted will begin mid-January 2022.

If you’re moving here from another state where you served as a Master Gardener, we welcome you to our program but do require that you complete our application process and training. Colorado can be a tough place to garden – we think you’ll appreciate the education you receive through our Colorado-specific training.

STEP 3: Apply to become a Master Gardener Apprentice

If you’ve decided you’re interested in plant education and outreach and you’d like to volunteer in your local community then it’s time to apply! Applications are accepted online. Before applying, be sure to read our Colorado Master Gardener application information first.

STEP 4: Complete training courses

Regardless of your location, all Colorado Master Gardeners (CMG) receive in-depth horticulture training provided by University faculty, staff, and specialists. Training is critical to ensure that all volunteers have access to the information necessary to support our mission.

Our upcoming 2022 Spring training will offer hybrid training options. This includes self-paced online courses, live webinar-based courses and live weekly Q&A with subject matter experts from CSU. Combined with optional in-person activities and hands-on labs, you’ll have the flexibility to learn at home and practice with fellow volunteers.


Courses are specific to Colorado’s climate, soil, environment, insects, wildlife, and plants. Training is a big commitment and includes reading (online, no text required), homework, in-class activities and lectures. The program is interesting, fun and encourages social interaction with your fellow trainees.

Topics include: Soils & Amendments, Botany, Vegetables, Entomology, Integrated Pest Management, Plant Pathology & Diagnostics, Turfgrass Management, Weed Management, Science of Planting Trees, and Tree Care. Depending on your location you may have Mountain Gardening, Fruit Trees, Small Fruits, Pruning, Irrigation and other relevant subjects.

Apprentices must complete 80% of classes, attend weekly live review sessions and pass the final exam (open book, open note, researching encouraged) with a 70% or better.

STEP 5: Engage in local projects

The CMG Volunteer’s audience is exclusively home gardeners. Including landscape plants, turfgrass, and trees as well as house plants, vegetable gardens and greenhouses.

Types of volunteer service can include answering phone calls and emails at county Extension offices, staffing diagnostic clinics, teaching gardening classes, writing newspaper and website articles and mentoring community gardening and greening projects.

STEP 6: Report & Renew annually

Colorado Master Gardeners are active across the state and their impacts are impressive. We have a user-friendly reporting system so that logging hours, reporting outreach and signing up for projects is simple. We’re required to report our efforts locally and to the state annually – we want to show off the good work our volunteers are doing!

After we’ve put our outdoor gardens to bed, we start our annual renewal process for all Master Gardeners. Continuing CMGs must contribute at least 24 hours of volunteer service annually and complete 12 continuing education hours (often provided by CSU in your local county or online). CMGs in good standing complete renewal paperwork and contribute annual dues (typically less than $35) to recommit for the upcoming year.