NC State Extension Publications

General Information about the Role of Associations

There are independent associations at the state and county level that have been formed to support the work of EMGVs and the EMGV program.

The purpose of these associations is to

  1. enhance, supplement, and aid in improving the effectiveness of its members as volunteers in the North Carolina EMGV program;
  2. raise issues of concern for improvement of the EMGV program;
  3. facilitate communication among Association members through an Association newsletter, website, regular meetings, and other events;
  4. raise funds in support of the Association, state, county and multi-county, consumer horticulture, and EMGV programs; and
  5. sponsor select educational and social activities for North Carolina’s EMGVs.

These roles and activities are not the exclusive responsibility of an association. Extension staff also conduct events, meetings, and field trips; send newsletters; manage websites and social media communication; and provide volunteer recognition to Extension's volunteer staff.

Associations focus on supporting EMGVs and the program while Extension and North Carolina EMGVs focus on providing direct service to the public.

While the ultimate responsibility for the North Carolina EMGV program rests with the Extension faculty and staff in each county, EMGV associations are vital partners, providing much-needed financial support, advocacy, and educational opportunities for volunteers and staff.


Funds raised by the EMGV program and the EMGV association should be kept separate.

Extension Funds

Training material fees collected from participants in the EMGV program are public sector funds and should be dispersed through an Extension account. Extension cannot spend publicly appropriated funds (from tax dollars) to print materials (applications and forms) for an association. Extension cannot include information on joining an association or promoting an association event or activity in Extension newsletters or other correspondence when using Extension letterhead or postage.

Association Funds

Association officers should manage dues collected and funds raised by an association. The members of an association are responsible for all expenses incurred in order to conduct association activities. Extension agents are encouraged to present financial requests for support of the EMGV program to the association.


An EMGV (as an agent of NC State University) is covered by the university liability policies when performing volunteer services provided he or she is following a role description and is adhering to EMGV program policies. An EMGV association and its members are not covered by NC State University liability policies.

Public perception

As an organization whose membership comes from Extension’s volunteer staff, the EMGV associations must consider how the public and the funding partners of Extension perceive them. Activities such as endorsing a political candidate or controversial zoning ordinance could have a negative effect on the EMGV program. Individuals may, however, take any position they choose, provided they do so as an individual and not as an EMGV or a member of an EMGV association.

Logos and servicemarked terms

The North Carolina EMGV logo, Extension letterhead and logo, and NC State University letterhead and logo may only be used in connection with programs sponsored by Extension with the permission of the local Extension agent. The only logo to be used in the state of North Carolina in conjunction with the term “Master Gardener” is the official North Carolina EMGV logo. EMGV associations must be licensed by NC State University to use the EMGV title and logo. For more information see Using the NC State Extension Master Gardener Program Service Marks and Logo, AG-798.

Extension Master Gardener and Master Gardener are service marks of the NC Cooperative Extension Service and may only be used by Extension or EMGV Associations licensed by NC State to use the terms.

Clarification of Roles

The selection, initial training, management, and evaluation of EMGV volunteers are the responsibility of the local Extension agent and are not appropriate roles for an association to undertake. All volunteer work that is to be counted within the North Carolina EMGV system falls under the direction of the EMGV program. Use the NC Cooperative Extension logo and contact information, rather than the EMGV association’s, on signs at public education events sponsored by Extension and on educational materials for distribution to the public.

The local Extension agent may assist with the initial organization of an association and is encouraged to serve as the faculty advisor to the group after they are organized. The agent may not be an association officer, handle funds, or perform the day-to-day activities of the association. He or she is expected to address issues, positions, and activities of the association that might compromise the integrity of the EMGV program.

Neither a local EMGV association nor its members are authorized to make EMGV policy decisions. They are prohibited from presenting themselves as speaking for the EMGV program, Extension, or NC State.

Memorandum of Agreement

The NC Cooperative Extension Service and EMGV associations work closely on many aspects of the EMGV program. The specific roles and responsibilities of each local EMGV association are described in a Memorandum of Agreement between that association and Extension in each county. This guiding document is essential for the clear leadership of North Carolina EMGVs and compliance with state ethics laws. This document defines the major responsibilities between the two groups. For local associations, the responsibility for completion of the document rests with the Extension local director, the local Extension agent, and the local EMGV Association Board of Directors. For the state association, the responsibility lies with the state EMGV coordinator, the director of Extension, and the Board of Directors for the NCEMGVA. Sample templates and instructions are available from the state EMGV coordinator. North Carolina EMGVs are encouraged to review a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement pertinent to their program, which may be obtained from their local Extension center or local EMGV association.

The Role of the North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association, (NCEMGVA)

NCEMGVA, the flagship EMGV Association in North Carolina, was formed in 1991. This 501(c)(3) organization was created to enhance the effectiveness of its members in their roles as volunteers for Extension. NCEMGVA's officers are elected by the membership, and the Board of Directors includes delegates elected or appointed by the members in each county.

The Association facilitates EMGV training, fund development, advocacy, and communication on a statewide level. North Carolina EMGVs should visit the North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association for a more complete view of the Association and related resources.

Membership is limited to individuals who have successfully completed the North Carolina EMGV formal training, are members in good standing of their local or multi-county North Carolina EMGV program, and pay annual dues to the Association. Extension staff are eligible for associate membership (non-voting, non-dues paying). EMGVs are not required to join the state or local associations in order to volunteer with Extension. Mandatory collection of county or state EMGV Association dues as a requirement to be in the EMGV program is prohibited.

The NCEMGVA has been certified by the IRS as an Umbrella 501(c)(3), so local EMGV associations can obtain their 501(c)(3) status more easily and less expensively through the state association.

The Role of Local Associations

Volunteers in some counties have formed EMGV associations to work in partnership with Extension to support their local EMGV program. Such organizations may be formal (incorporated with the state of North Carolina) or informal (unincorporated).


Extension Specialist, Urban Horticulture
Horticultural Science

Publication date: June 5, 2015

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