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Who Are the Master Gardeners?



UCCE Master Gardeners of Lake County are volunteer staff of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), the public service branch of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Master Gardeners are members of the local community who share a common interest, the growth and environmentally-sound care of plants. Whether it is grasses, herbs, indoor or outdoor ornamentals, shrubs, vegetables, vines, or trees, it falls within the scope of the “Master Gardener Program”. 

The Master Gardener Program began in the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area in 1973 in response to the public’s need for information regarding the planting, growth, and care of plants. Those who join the program complete 50 hours of classroom training and additional mentoring in horticulture and performing volunteer service. In return, we commit to 50 hours of volunteer time within the first year. In following years, we commit to 25 hours volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education to remain certified. The volunteer hour requirement is met by working shifts on the Master Gardener Help Desk at the Lake County UCCE office in the Agricultural Center in Lakeport, staffing educational booths at Farmers Markets and other locations, and by organizing field trips, working on special projects, or participating in other horticulture-related educational activities.

On the Help Desk, we receive questions from the public (we call them “clients”) and make every attempt to answer the questions or resolve their problem(s). We have access to many resources not generally available to the public, including on-site professional staff, outside experts, and faculty and specialists from the University of California’s Berkeley, Davis and Riverside campuses. For research purposes, we have access to on-site libraries that cover every aspect of horticultural science. Many of our members have developed extensive skills and acquired knowledge in specific areas of gardening; we educate ourselves at the same time that we provide service to the public.

What do we gain from our volunteer service? Aside from sharing our knowledge with the community, we enjoy the association of others who share a common interest, participate in interesting field trips, attend informative classes and presentations on horticulture, and best of all, we learn how to grow and care for plants sustainably and successfully.

What does it cost us? Other than the initial training class fee (cost of class is re-evaluated each year, was $125 in 2018, a one-time $25 fingerprinting fee, and a $6.00 yearly liability insurance fee, there are no other mandatory dues, fines or fees. Members are encouraged to attend monthly meetings and participate as officers or serve on subcommittees for specific events or functions. A typical monthly meeting consists of an educational presentation, a 30 to 60 minute business meeting, and a delicious potluck featuring the bounty of our gardens. Our meetings are open to the public and generally take place on the 3rd Wednesday of each month between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at various members homes across the county, in the Spring and Summer and at the Ag Center in the Winter.  Call (707) 263-6838 for current meeting schedule. 

If you would like further information, or would simply like to meet or talk to a Master Gardener, please visit the UCCE office at 883 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport, or call (707) 263-6838, Weekdays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – noon and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. If no Master Gardener is on duty, leave a message and one will contact you.


Prepared by:  Dale Barney, UC Certified Master Gardener
                    Rachel Elkins, Master Gardener Advisor
                    Revised by Gabriele O'Neill May 2019