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Since 1979, Master Gardener volunteers (MGVs) have been leaders in the internationally acclaimed NC State Extension Master GardenerSM (EMG) program, guiding homeowners in making environmentally sound decisions in their landscapes. Trained by North Carolina State University faculty and staff, Master GardenerSM volunteers provide research-based information about gardening and environmental stewardship to individuals and communities across the state. MGVs engage the community through education and outreach on a wide variety of subjects and through a broad spectrum of projects, all designed to maximize their impact.

This document provides guidance and direction for conducting an EMG program. It seeks to clarify roles and NC State Extension policies to maximize program success while minimizing potential liability issues. This document is based in part on the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Program Handbook and on previous North Carolina Master Gardener Program Operating Procedure. N.C. Cooperative Extension agents Shawn Banks, Linda Blue, Mark Blevins, and Jeff Rieves, along with program coordinator Jo Cook, guided the development of this document. Pam Bennett, Ohio state MGV coordinator; Monica David, Illinois state MGV coordinator; Toni Fitzgerald, Washington state MGV coordinator; and Harriet Edwards, North Carolina state 4-H volunteer coordinator, reviewed and offered recommendations for strengthening the guidelines. It is a working document for agents and volunteers and includes procedures for working with an EMG Association (see appendix E).

Outstanding volunteers are critical to the success of Extension programs, and MGVs are highly valued partners. We tremendously appreciate the time, talent, experience, and wisdom that each MGV contributes to the community through this successful program.

Lucy K. Bradley, PhD
Extension Specialist, Urban Horticulture
Department of Horticultural Science
North Carolina State University

Charlotte Glen
State Coordinator, NC State Extension Master Gardener Program
Department of Horticultural Science
North Carolina State University


Extension Urban Horticulture Specialist
Horticultural Science
State Coordinator, NC Extension Master Gardener Program
Horticultural Science

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: July 17, 2015
Revised: May 29, 2019

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by NC State University or N.C. A&T State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.

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