NC State Extension Publications


  1. Non-discrimination
  2. Definition of Roles
    1. Volunteer Role
      1. Code of Conduct
      2. Answering Questions
        1. Legal opinions
        2. Pest management recommendations
        3. Consumer plant problem diagnosis
        4. Possible poison cases
        5. Product or service endorsement
        6. Working with the public
      3. Record Keeping
      4. Leadership Opportunities
    2. Extension Agent Role
    3. State Coordinator Role
    4. Association Role​
  3. Essential Program Elements
  4. Communication
  5. Recognition
  6. Trademark and Service Mark
    1. Nomenclature
    2. Use of the Title
    3. Logos
  7. Liability, Legal, and Financial
    1. Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage and Exclusions
    2. Reimbursement for Expenses
  8. Participation
    1. Withdrawal or Leave of Absence
    2. Reapplying After Extended Leave of Absence
    3. Transferring from Another County or from Out of State
    4. Termination of Volunteer Services​
  9. Evaluation

A. Non-discrimination

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The NC State EMG program is a component of NC State Extension within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State. As such, it must comply with all federal, state, and local laws concerning non-discrimination with regard to

  • selecting, training, assigning, and evaluating our volunteers; and
  • selecting, funding, and evaluating projects and services.

Extension works to exceed compliance in providing its services to the larger community. While retaining the current core of volunteers, the program seeks to extend recruitment, training, and service efforts to include members of the community who it has not reached in the past.

Because Extension receives both federal and state funds, MGVs must participate in the collection of contact information to verify compliance with affirmative action laws. Report concerns and evidence of non-compliance to local Extension agents or the NC State University Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity at 919-515-3148.

B. Definition of Roles

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1. Volunteer Role

MGVs work on behalf of and under the supervision of Extension. As agents of the university, they are covered under the university’s liability insurance. This coverage applies only when acting in an official capacity as an MGV, following the job description, and adhering to Extension policies. To minimize liability and clarify the roles and expectations of MGVs, role descriptions should delineate expectations and each role should have a one-year appointment with an option to renew at the end of each year. Sample role descriptions are available from the state EMG coordinator.

a. Code of Conduct

All NC State MGVs agree to comply with the following code of conduct:

  • Perform assigned duties with dignity and pride as representatives of NC State University, follow university and county policies, and work under the supervision of an NC State or NC A&T University employee.
  • Respect and interact in a professional manner with paid staff, volunteers, and clientele. Act as a positive role model, refraining from profanity, harassment, disruptive behavior, or abuse of any kind.
  • Perform assigned duties without financial compensation or worker’s compensation coverage. MGVs will not accept personal payment for speaking engagements or other activities performed as an MGV.
  • Provide unbiased, research-based information consistent with NC State University recommendations.
  • Make no recommendations, endorsements, or negative comments about a particular product or place of business. Do not use the MGV title to conduct commercial or private business.
  • Provide cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical recommendations to clientele so that they can make an informed decision about integrated pest management.
  • Restrict chemical pesticide recommendations to only those in the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual, recent Extension publications, or pesticide labeling. Encourage clients to read the pesticide labeling themselves rather than providing them with dilution or application recommendations.
  • Restrict answers to within their areas of expertise or training. Do not answer questions concerning household pests, commercial horticulture, herbicide damage, hazardous tree evaluation, medical or legal questions, or determining whether a questionable plant or mushroom is edible.
  • Do not guess at answers. If you cannot find appropriate information in reference materials ask for help from an Extension agent. Qualify answers with phrases like "it sounds like" or "it could be.
  • Submit written materials prepared on behalf of the program (news articles, news releases, newsletters, or leaflets) for review and approval by the Extension agent or the appropriate subject matter Extension specialist or state EMG coordinator prior to printing.
  • Refer requests for information from commercial entities or reporters to the Extension agent.
  • Do not attempt to identify mushrooms.
  • Refer possible poisoning cases to the Carolina's Poison Center (800-222-1222).
  • Wear your MGV nametag and include the word “volunteer” in your title when doing volunteer work for Extension.
  • Dress in an appropriate and professional manner suitable for the activity or location. “Office casual” is appropriate for speaking engagements, indoor plant clinics, and schools. Gardening work clothes are appropriate for working in demonstration gardens and some outdoor events.
  • NC State University strives to maintain workplace environments that are well functioning and free from unnecessary distractions and annoyances. As part of that effort, the university requires employees and volunteers to maintain a neat and clean appearance that is appropriate for the workplace setting and for the work being performed. To that end, Extension agents may determine and enforce guidelines for workplace-appropriate attire and grooming; guidelines may limit natural or artificial scents that could be distracting or disruptive to others.
  • Do not make copies of copyrighted material for distribution without written permission of the copyright owner.
  • Do not sign contracts on behalf of Extension or the EMG program.
  • Do not display discriminatory behavior (based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, handicap, and sexual orientation) or sexual harassment while volunteering as an MGV.
  • Refrain from using drugs or alcohol and from possessing a dangerous weapon while on duty.

b. Answering Questions

MGVs are representatives of Extension, county government, and NC State.

Our clientele is the public. Extension follows non-discriminatory practices and ensures that all programs, activities, and participation is offered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, political beliefs, parental status, receipt of public assistance, or protected genetic information.

It is important to maintain a professional image. Dress according to the type of work being performed. Casual clothes are acceptable in many situations. Wear a name tag when performing duties that involve interaction with the public. Remember, people interpret meaning and attitudes from voice, gestures, facial expressions, and general body language, as well as words. Try to maintain a relaxed, friendly, but professional style.

When dealing with the public, remember there are gardeners of all types; some will have just started, others will be seasoned pros. Their questions are important to them, even if they may seem simple. Remember to choose terms carefully—phrases like diptera insects, plant pathology, and cultivar are useful, but they can become a barrier to understanding if they draw blank looks. Explain things in terms that the client will understand.

Listen carefully to descriptions of plant problems and requests for information. Try to uncover the information needed to make an accurate diagnosis. MGVs know a great deal about horticulture. The ability to find answers is one of their most important skills. While working at plant clinics or at the Extension center, MGVs will have access to excellent resource material. Become familiar with books, manuals, departmental leaflets, and Internet resources. Share resources as well as answers.

Extension Center Resources

Many resources are available to MGVs in the Extension center. In addition to the reference books and gardening magazines, Extension centers stock publications written by agents and specialists. Most of those relating to horticulture have an identification code that begins with two uppercase letters followed by a number. Also, many departments on campus have produced extensive series of leaflets on a variety of topics.

Extension has also been a leader in making educational material available on the Internet. Many Extension publications and departmental leaflets are available online. Review the following websites to find horticulture and EMG information online:

NC State Extension
NC State Department of Horticultural Science
NC State gardening information
North Carolina EMG Intranet
North Carolina EMG website
North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

Use Unbiased, Research-Based Sources

Remember that not everything found on the Internet is research-based and appropriate to North Carolina gardening conditions. Always consider the information source and who prepared it. To limit online searches to information from NC State University, add “” to the search string. For example type aphids in the search box to limit your search to items about aphids from Use “” to search all universities.

To search for Extension publications and resources nationwide, visit

MGVs are limited to giving advice to home gardeners. Requests for information by journalists and horticulture professionals should be referred to the Extension agent. Questions concerning commercial crop and nursery production, municipal parks and trees, pesticide regulation, human health and food safety/preservation, household pests, hazardous tree evaluation, herbicide damage, medical or legal questions, determining if a questionable plant or mushroom is edible, and other topics beyond the scope of home horticulture should be referred to an Extension agent.

  1. Legal opinions. Volunteers are not authorized to provide legal opinions. When asked about a legal opinion or decision, one suggested response is, “As Extension volunteers, we give general gardening advice. We cannot provide legal advice.” Another response regarding pesticides and their use is, “The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services is the legal authority in North Carolina for pesticides. We cannot provide legal advice.”
  2. Pest management recommendations. MGVs are required to provide an integrated pest management approach, which includes information about cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods. Recommendations must be made from home and garden sections of relevant current NC State publications, including the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook, the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual or other NC State-approved materials. It is illegal to use or to recommend the use of a pesticide that is inconsistent with the pesticide labeling (label on the product, attached material, and any additional printed material provided by the chemical company). MGVs should encourage clients to read the pesticide labeling rather than provide application or dilution rates. NC State will provide defense and indemnification for MGV pest management recommendations only if MGVs follow published NC State approved recommendations for home garden use.
  3. Consumer plant problem diagnosis. When diagnosing plant problems, volunteers should use language such as, “The problem seems to be caused by…” or, “It appears that a cause of this problem may be…” Supporting documents or publications may be included. Avoid making definitive statements such as, “This is clearly...” or, “I’m sure this was caused by...”
  4. Possible poisoning cases should be referred to the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).
  5. Product or service endorsement. MGVs shall not endorse any particular product, business, or service. MGVs should mention a product by its chemical name and then include products from several companies to clarify the recommendation. For example, if recommending an insecticidal soap, say, “Insecticidal soaps are registered to control this pest. They are found in products such as Nature Guard or Safers Insecticidal Soap, as well as other products.” Alternatively, if recommending an herbicide, say, “Glyphosate is labeled for this weed. It may be found in products such as Roundup or Kleenup, as well as other products.”
  6. Working with the public.
    1. Our role is education, not service.
    2. If a client's problem is beyond the scope of the MGV’s knowledge with the aid of resource materials, take the person's contact information and then find the answer or see that it is referred to the Extension agent.
    3. MGVs will occasionally speak with a client who may be having a bad day. Try to maintain an even tone, listen, and present the information as calmly as possible. It can be challenging to communicate or reason with someone who is angry. It is best to maintain a professional demeanor and represent the MGV program in a positive manner. Do not take negative comments personally. Take the client’s name and number and refer the call to an agent if they are rude.

c. Record Keeping

An accurate record of volunteer service and educational training is a powerful tool in documenting the scope of the EMG program and demonstrating the many ways MGVs serve the community. Local and state government officials are interested in their return on investment, and detailed records of hours, programs, the number of people reached, and success stories are valuable for program documentation. Both volunteer work hours and continuing education must be recorded on the EMG Intranet.

Training and travel hours do not count towards meeting the minimum volunteer work requirement, but they are important to convey MGVs’ level of commitment and expertise. All hours (work, training, and travel) are used in calculations that report the value of the EMG Program to our stakeholders and funding partners. Volunteers may review their recorded hours by visiting the EMG Intranet.

Volunteer Service Hours. Each North Carolina local program offers a variety of ways to fulfill volunteer service requirements. These opportunities are based on individual county needs. Extension, through the local EMG program coordinator or Extension agent, determines what qualifies as volunteer service hours. Local faculty or staff may limit the number of hours in certain categories that may count toward meeting the minimum requirements.

Activities that satisfy the following criteria count as service time:

  • Extension consumer horticulture educational programs
  • support an Extension consumer horticulture educational program
  • fall within the scope of Extension’s mission
Examples of MGV service include involvement in the following activities:
  • plant clinics
  • fielding gardening questions from the public in person, over the phone, or via email
  • classes, workshops, and seminars
  • garden tours
  • demonstration gardens
  • exhibits and information booths at public events
  • youth horticulture programs
  • community gardening educational programs
  • mentoring and training new volunteers
  • media (television, radio, or web programs)
  • speakers bureau
  • office assistance
  • therapeutic horticulture
  • newsletter editor
  • fundraising to support program activities

Volunteer hours related to an inter-agency project may count under the following circumstances:

  • Extension is a co-sponsor of the project involved in planning, supervision, and evaluation.
  • The project has an educational objective consistent with Extension’s mission and plan of work.
  • MGVs are recognized as representatives of Extension and NC State.

Work done for an EMG Association must comply with the above criteria in order to count for MGV service hours.

"Manual labor" for non-Extension projects is not an appropriate role for MGVs.

From time to time, MGVs may be asked to assist with other Extension programs. As part of the total county team, volunteers are encouraged to assist. However, only a small percentage of total volunteer hours should come from activities that are not related to the consumer horticulture educational program.

Log volunteer and continuing education efforts on the Extension Master Gardener Intranet on a regular basis, preferably every month. Extension (and sometimes the county) provides recognition for volunteers when they complete 40 hours, 250 hours, 500 hours, 1,000 hours, 2,000 hours, and every additional 1,000 hours of service. Be sure to report your time; you deserve to be recognized for your efforts! In addition, volunteer data is often reported as matching contributions on grants and is submitted to county, state, and national governments as evidence of the value of the EMG Program. The hours logged provide a record of the many ways MGVs serve the public. Detailed records of hours, programs, the number of people reached, and success stories are valuable documentation.

d. Leadership Opportunities

Volunteer project coordinators work closely with Extension staff to plan, implement, and evaluate programs. They assume leadership roles helping to recruit, train, and manage MGVs under the guidance of the local Extension agent. See Appendix B for examples of roles that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • plant clinic coordinator
  • phone duty coordinator
  • speakers bureau coordinator
  • school garden coordinator
  • demonstration garden coordinator
  • 4-H project leader
  • office manager
  • EMG Management Team member

Agents are encouraged to recruit and train an active EMG Management team to assist them with program planning, implementation, and evaluation. The Extension agent should provide the Management Team with available resources, current plan of work, Extension’s mission, and other core documents to ensure they make informed recommendations. A Management Team is not a board of directors and does not have the authority to make policy decisions.

2. Extension Agent Role

The Extension agent in each county manages the local EMG program, providing supervision, guidance, training, and administrative support to the volunteers. Following is a partial list of the agent's responsibilities:

  • Assess program needs.
  • Recruit, screen, select, train, place, supervise, and evaluate MGVs.
  • Develop volunteer leaders.
  • Compile and report program impacts. Ensure that the EMG Intranet is an accurate reflection of the volunteer service and continuing education hours for their county. The calendar year is used for reporting purposes.
  • Direct the local EMG Management Team.
  • Direct volunteer recognition and leadership development.
  • Serve as the faculty advisor and educational liaison to the local EMG Association (if one exists).
  • Evaluate each volunteer annually (or as needed). This does not have to be a formal conference. Consider the following items:
    • volunteer and continuing education hours logged
    • accomplishments and quality of work
    • ability to provide information in an objective manner
    • cooperation with staff and other volunteers
    • adherence to policies and liability risk
    • leadership development

3. State Coordinator Role

  • Provide training and support to local Extension agents managing EMG programs.
  • Manage the EMG Intranet.
  • Manage the EMG statewide public website.
  • Oversee the EMG initial training curriculum and support materials.
  • Coordinate statewide training opportunities for MGVs.
  • Coordinate statewide volunteer recognition.
  • Serve as the faculty advisor and educational liaison to the local EMG Association.
  • Serve as the faculty advisor to the EMG Endowment.
  • Manage the state EMG logo.
  • Manage the state EMG handbook, policies, and procedures.
  • Direct statewide EMG management team.

4. Association Role

The North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association (NCEMGVA) and local EMG Associations are separate organizations partnering with Extension to support the EMG program. These associations were created to perform the critical tasks of generating funding and advocacy to support Extension programs. They also provide advanced training opportunities for MGVs. Associations do not provide educational programs for the public or supervise MGV activities. Membership in a local or state EMG Association is optional. Individuals may serve as volunteers in the EMG program whether or not they are members of the county or state association. (See appendix E for more information on associations.)

A master gardener performs research in Mecklenburg County

An NC State MGV performs research in Mecklenburg County.

N.C. Cooperative Extension

Photo of master gardener in Iredell County

An NC State MGV in Iredell County.

N.C. Cooperative Extension

C. Essential Program Elements

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Volunteers provide a wealth of ideas for new educational programs. Before deciding to initiate a new EMG project, or expand an existing one, several key questions should be addressed:

  • Does the program address critical needs/issues in the county?
  • Is it in line with the EMG purpose and core values?
  • How will potential liability concerns be managed?
  • Will staff be able to train and supervise volunteers for the specific program?
  • What (if any) additional resources/space will be needed?
  • How will the program affect existing horticulture and other Extension programs? (enhance, reduce, no significant effect)
  • Will MGVs be adequately recognized for their contribution?
  • Are MGVs excited about the opportunity?
  • Are there other agencies better equipped/positioned to undertake this project?
Photo of MGVs composting in Cumberland County

NC State MGVs composting in Cumberland County.

N.C. Cooperative Extension

D. Communications

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Penalty Mail. The U.S. Postal Service defines penalty mail as “official mail, sent by U.S. government agencies, relating solely to the business of the U.S. government, that is authorized by law to be carried in the mail without prepayment of postage. For this standard, agencies are departments, agencies, corporations, establishments, commissions, committees, and all officers and authorities of the U.S. government authorized to use penalty mail.” As an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, Extension is permitted to use penalty mail to carry out the mission of the organization.

Educational information and announcements regarding volunteer hours, accomplishments, volunteer opportunities, and spotlights on individual MGVs may be sent out via penalty mail. However, Federal requirements prohibit the inclusion of personal information (birthdays, illness) and association information (minutes, announcement of meeting, officers, and dues). These "restricted items" may be distributed via the internet or via regular postage so long as neither letterhead nor logos for Extension, NC State, or the EMG program are used.

Photo of master gardener with a client in Wake County

An NC State MGV communicates with a client in Wake County.

N.C. Cooperative Extension

E. Recognition

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The primary reward for MGVs is the education received and the satisfaction gained by "Helping gardeners put knowledge to work." Volunteers are recognized for their contributions by personal thank you notes, acknowledgment in group settings, and newsletters. Counties are encouraged to develop a volunteer recognition system, including recognition for the following:

  • class completion (certificate, MGV Intern name tag)
  • internship completion (certificate, MGV name tag)
  • 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years of volunteer service—Milestone pins recognizing these years of service levels are available from the State Coordinator. Pins may be awarded for cumulative years of service a MGV has served in any state or NC county.
  • 250 hours, 500 hours, 1,000 hours, 2,000 hours, and up to 10,000 hours of volunteer service—Milestone pins recognizing these hours of volunteer service levels are available from the State Coordinator. Pins are awarded for cumulative hours of volunteer service as a MGV in North Carolina only and should reflect a MGVs service in all counties within the state.
Photo of award-winning NC State MGV in Onslow County

Award-winning NC State MGV in Onslow County.

N.C. Cooperative Extension

F. Trademark and Service Marks

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1. Nomenclature

Master Gardener℠ is a registered service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Extension Master Gardener℠ is a registered service mark of NC State University. The following definitions are associated with the North Carolina EMG program. Titles and service marks should only be used when volunteering in an EMG program. An uppercase "sm" should be used in conjunction with each service mark. The "sm" should be a smaller type size than the title and ideally formatted as a superscript. The service mark is only required the first time you use the term in a document or web page.

Master Gardener student—a person accepted into the program and currently enrolled in training.

Master Gardener intern—a graduate of the EMGV class who is in the process of completing the first-year volunteer requirement of at least 40 hours of service.

Master Gardener volunteer—a volunteer who has completed the initial 40-hour training, passed the final exam, completed an additional 40-hour internship, kept up to date on their annual requirement for continuing education and volunteer service, and who is providing horticultural information to the gardening public on behalf of and under the supervision of Extension.

Master Gardener volunteer mentor—an active or Emeritus MGV who is paired with an MGV student to guide that person into becoming a successful MGV.

Master Gardener volunteer emeritus—an MGV with a history of outstanding volunteer service who becomes inactive due to personal or family health issues, or other extenuating circumstances, and is granted Emeritus status by the local Extension agent. This designation is entitled to full status in the program and is exempt from the requirement to log hours.

Master Gardener volunteer alumnus—an MGV who has retired from the program.

Individuals who fail to complete the training course or internship, or those dismissed from the program, are not alumni of the EMG program and should not refer to themselves as a Master Gardener, Master Gardener volunteer, Master Gardener trainee, Master Gardener intern, Extension Master Gardener volunteer, or any similar title that could be perceived as being a representative of N.C. Cooperative Extension or NC State University.

See Extension publication AG-798 Using the NC State Extension Master Gardener Program Service Marks and Logo for detailed information.

2. Use of the Title

The title "Master Gardener Volunteer" should be used only by individuals trained in an Extension program. The title is valid only when used by an active MGV who is participating in a program approved by an Extension agent. When an individual ceases to be active in the EMG program, he or she may no longer use the title “Master Gardener Volunteer.”

The “Master Gardener Volunteer” title should be used only when volunteers are performing unpaid work for Extension. It is inappropriate to seek payment for services conducted as a volunteer. When speaking before groups on horticultural subjects, volunteers may accept unsolicited reimbursements for expenses or gifts.

Volunteers should not display credentials or give the appearance of being an MGV at a place of business unless that place has been designated as an EMG Plant Clinic by the local Extension center. The title "Master Gardener Volunteer" should not be used in a manner that implies Extension’s endorsement of any product or place of business.

Volunteers should wear their name badges whenever they are engaged in EMG activities. They should not wear or use the MGV title to endorse any product or place of business. (For example, “XYZ Specialty Nursery, MGVs on staff” or “XYZ Product, recommended by MGVs,” or “Plant Doctor and MGV.”)

Volunteers may list their EMG training and experience as qualifications when applying for a job. However, they may not give the appearance of being a North Carolina MGV at their place of employment. EMG certificates should not be displayed outside of the individual's home.

The EMG program should be presented as a part of Extension. For example, instead of referring to an event as a "Master Gardener plant clinic," the preferred reference is, " NC State Extension will conduct a plant clinic . . . Master Gardener Volunteers will be on hand to help with your plant questions." The preferred color scheme for all products is red, white, gray, and black.

NC State, Extension, and EMG logos and letterhead may be used only when conducting official university business that is educational in nature.

Individuals not continuing in the program (or those dismissed from the program) should no longer refer to themselves as a Master Gardener, Master Gardener volunteer, Master Gardener intern, Extension Master Gardener volunteer, or any similar title that could be perceived as being a representative of Extension. In addition, they may no longer wear their MGV nametag. An individual who fails to complete the minimum recertification requirements or chooses not to recertify and leaves the EMG program shall be known as a Master Gardener volunteer alumnus.

3. Logos

Visit the NC State Extension Brand page to download official Extension logos and view guidelines for usage, color, background, size, and other considerations in using Extension logos in print and online materials.

The "Helping Gardeners Put Knowledge to Work"sm slogan is used when providing gardening information to the public. (The slogan is a registered service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.)

To download the official NC State Extension Master Gardener logo and view guidelines for usage, color, background, size, and other considerations in using the EMG logo in print and online materials, visit the statewide section of the EMG intranet.

Red rectangle with NC State and Extension below in black letters

NC State Extension logo

NC State on a red field and Extension Master Gardener in black

NC State Extension Master Gardener logo

G. Liability, Legal, and Financial

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1. Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage and Exclusions

Liability insurance protects an individual or entity against personal financial risk when a claimant alleges that the person or entity is at legal fault for an injury and, therefore, subject to monetary penalties known as damages.

MGVs work on behalf of and under the supervision of Extension. As agents of the university, MGVs may be covered under the state's Tort Claim Act, Defense of State Employees Act, and NC State’s Excess Liability. Liability coverage, legal counseling, and possible legal representation apply only when the individual is

  • currently enrolled and is acting in an official capacity as an MGV;
  • in compliance with NC State, Extension, and EMG policies and the law;
  • engaged in activities that are planned, approved, and carried out through Extension;
  • following an approved role description;
  • supervised by an NC State or NC A&T University employee;
  • reporting dates and times of MGV activities on a monthly basis.

Coverage does not extend to other associations or groups that a volunteer may choose to work with or has been authorized to work with. Activities of an EMG Association are not covered under university or state liability coverage.

The federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 does exempt volunteers from some but not all liability for negligent acts. The Act does not provide an exemption for criminal actions. The Act requires a selection and training program and volunteer role descriptions. MGVs are not eligible for worker's compensation.

Effective risk management methods encourage the proper selection, training, and supervision of volunteers, as does taking corrective action when a volunteer fails to adhere to program policies. As a supervisor of volunteers, the Extension agent may be held accountable for the actions of his or her volunteers. Agents may purchase personal liability insurance to enhance their coverage. Contact the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Personnel Office or NC State University Benefits Office for information.

Agents are encouraged to purchase accident insurance to cover volunteers for field trips and special events. NC State is currently using American Income Life Insurance Company (317-849-5545). Obtain additional information by contacting the company directly, the state 4-H office, NC State University Insurance and Risk Management Office, or the state EMG coordinator.

It is important that the local Extension agent be kept informed of volunteer activities. It is equally important that volunteers be familiar with the Extension mission and policies.

2. Reimbursement for Expenses

Provided that prior approval has been secured, an MGV may accept reimbursement for travel and expenses associated with preparing and conducting an educational program. MGVs may also accept donations to the EMG program or endowment. However, it is inappropriate to accept personal pay for speaking engagements while using the title of MGV.

H. Participation

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1. Withdrawal or Leave of Absence

To apply for a temporary leave of absence, volunteers should send a written request to their local EMG coordinator. Upon approval by the local EMG coordinator, a leave of absence may be granted for a period of 12 to 24 months. The coordinator shall review this status annually and may require additional training for an MGV to return to active status.

2. Reapplying after Extended Leave of Absence

If volunteers remain inactive for longer than their pre-approved leave of absence, they need to reapply to their local EMG program, be retrained in current and regionally relevant home horticulture information, and re-enroll in the program. Payment of all relevant training fees, participation in training, and fulfillment of volunteer service and continuing education hours are required.

3. Transferring from Another County or from Out of State

MGVs who change residence from one county to another (including from a different state) and want to continue in the EMG program may be asked by the local Extension program coordinator to do one or more of the following:

  • Obtain a letter of reference from the EMG program coordinator in their previous county of residence.
  • Attend an orientation session to understand local program policies, activities, and commitments.
  • Attend specific individual or all EMG training classes, depending on how different the climate and conditions in the new location are from the previous place of residence.
  • Pay county and state fees.

4. Termination of Volunteer Services

A local Extension agent, local Extension director, or the state EMG coordinator may reassign or dismiss a volunteer for misconduct, failure to perform duties, or failure to follow program policies.

The Extension agent should first seek to discover the facts of a situation and request a meeting with the volunteer and a witness. The volunteer should be given the opportunity to respond. A volunteer may be placed on probation or dismissed depending on the severity of the offense, past volunteer contributions, or indications that the volunteer plans to continue (or discontinue) policy violations or misconduct. The local Extension director, district director, and the state EMG coordinator should be consulted. The volunteer should be given a written copy of actions taken, and a copy should be placed in the volunteer's file.

Presenting oneself as an MGV in an unauthorized role or attempting to implement management/policy decisions that are inconsistent or in direct violation of EMG program policies are considered serious violations. Displays of discriminatory behavior, sexual harassment, use of alcohol or drugs, or possession of a dangerous weapon while volunteering as an MGV are grounds for immediate dismissal

Photo of NC State EMGVs staffing the help desk in Wake County

NC State MGVs staffing the help desk in Wake County.

N.C. Cooperative Extension

I. Evaluation

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Along with their local Extension agent, volunteers will evaluate their performance and the support they receive from Extension to ensure their satisfaction and success as well as the benefit to the community.


Extension Urban Horticulture Specialist
Horticultural Science

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: 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.

N.C. Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status.