University of Maryland Extension

State Standards

The Maryland Master Gardener Program is an exclusive program of University of Maryland Extension (UME).  The principal goal is to train qualified residents to become certified Master Gardeners and serve as volunteer horticulture educators.  The program’s mission is to support the University of Maryland Extension by educating Maryland residents about safe, effective, and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities.

We recognize that there are differences between county and city programs regarding their resources and demographics, level of UME office support, paid coordinator or volunteer leadership, etc.  Local programs have significant autonomy in how they shape their program and work with their particular circumstances.  At the same time, the state Master Gardener (MG) office, State Advisory Committee and Strategic Planning Committee, and UME’s administration all agree on the need to strengthen our statewide program. These State Standards help achieve that goal. The standards will also be valuable for counties without MG programs to decide if they have the resources and committment to start new local MG programs.

These are the standards that county and city programs accept to be part of the Maryland Master Gardener Program:

1.  Training


  • Implement a basic training course at least once every two years (minimum of 40 hours).
  • MD MG Handbook is required.  It is to be used as the primary training resource.  Every trainee receives a copy as part of course fee.
  • At least 50% of the curriculum and final exam is uniform throughout the state.  This addresses the core competencies required of every individual to become certified. The five core subjects are ecology, soils, botany, entomology and plant pathology.
Highly recommended
  • Implement a basic training course every year.
  • Strive to train a minimum of 20 interns each cycle. Interns are adequately screened and mentored.
2.  Volunteer Management


  • Provide supervision of volunteers.
  • Provide UME volunteer policy training to interns before the completion of basic training.
  • Maintain a folder for each volunteer in a locked file cabinet that contains all required forms and contact information.  Information will be kept current and confidential.

Required forms include:

  • volunteer application
  • volunteer interview form
  • volunteer orientation checklist
  • volunteer appointment agreement
  • job description
  • 2-3 reference letters or notes from phone conversations with references

  • Approve all official MG activities and projects (before the activity) to be sure they are consistent with the mission and goals of the program.
  • Review volunteer hours, before entering them into the database, to be sure they are consistent with the mission and goals of the program.
  • Send MG certificates to state office after MG interns complete first 40 hours of volunteer service.  Certificates with the MG's name printed on them are sent to the state office where the hours are verified. The certificate will be signed by State Coordinator and Dean of our College and then mailed back to the local program.
  • Develop an organizational and communications structure (e.g. active committees, regularly scheduled meetings, phone tree, e-mail lists, newsletter).
  • Ensure that active volunteers meet their minimum service and continuing education requirements (see “MD MG Policies and Guidelines”).
  • Ensure that program is managed according to the affirmative action and diversity guidelines of UME; increase diversity in MG base and clientele.

3. UME Office Support

  • Provide supervision of paid or volunteer MG coordinator.
  • Provide adequate office and storage space and access to computers, A/V equipment, copier, office supplies, administrative support staff, and other resources commensurate with other UME programs.
  • Maintain MG sub-accounts in EAC or EAB account.  Share income and expense reports with volunteers on a regular basis.  (This could be done by the MG coordinator or designated volunteers.)
  • For programs without a paid coordinator: work with volunteers and county officials to secure county funding for a paid MG Coordinator position.

4.  County and City Program Responsibilities to State Office

  • Paid coordinator or volunteer coordinator-leader will attend MG Advisory Committee meetings three times a year (or send a designee when unable to attend).
  • Send the state office an electronic or printed copy of each edition of county and city MG newsletter.
  • Include designated information sent from state office in county and city newsletters and web sites.
  • Remit $20 of the training fee for each MG intern to the state office to support the program.

5.  State Office Responsibilities to County and City Programs

  • Provide statewide leadership and coordination of program
  • Develop, revise, and distribute policies, guidelines and standards for volunteers and local programs.
  • Liaison to AGNR and UMCP administrators and to UME programs (Ag, 4-H, FCS, etc.)
  • Liaison to Maryland IPM Program and Maryland Nutrient Management Program.
  • Produce annual reports and impact statements for stakeholders and supporters.
  • Promote and represent the MD MG program with media, USDA, state MG coordinators, non-profits, and the green industry.
  • Help get new local programs established.
  • Provide guidance and support to existing programs.
  • Convene and conduct three MG Advisory Committee meetings each year.
  • Work as a partner with MG Strategic Planning Committee.
  • Make available to all local programs- MG logo, name badges, recognition pins, certificates, branded apparel, etc.
  • Produce and distribute the Maryland Master Gardener Handbook..
  • Manage the MG volunteer database.
  • Develop and maintain the MD MG web site- including local program impacts and highlights.
  • Recognize volunteer service and accomplishments.
  • Produce and distribute a MD MG newsletter once each year to all volunteers.
  • Facilitate the exchange of ideas and information between volunteers from different county and city programs through trainings, events, and interest group meetings.
  • Keep volunteers informed about important subject matter updates.
  • Keep volunteers informed of training opportunities through UME and other agencies and organizations.
  • Provide advanced Level II training course opportunities.
  • Provide advanced training opportunities, including the all-day training at UMCP.

6.  Mandatory Reports

A.    Basic Training Classes
  • Submit training syllabus to state office by first class to state coordinator.
  • Enter roster of trainees (name, address, telephone, e-mail) into MG database as soon as possible.
B. Pre-and Post-Training Tests
Administer standard 20-question test from state office at beginning and end of basic training (tied to curriculum and focused on IPM and nutrient management; designed to measure the knowledge gained during basic training.) Submit averaged results after basic training is complete.
C.  Volunteer Hours and Contact Information
  • Enter all volunteer hours and contact information (race and gender included where feasible) into the state MG database.  All hours for a single calendar year must be entered by February 1 of the following year (e.g. all volunteer hours given in 2012 will all be entered by February 1, 2013)
  • Update all contact information by Nov. 1 of each year: change of address, email or phone numbers, MG status (active, hiatus, emeritus).
  • If you need help sending your data to campus, contact Koralleen Stavish at UMCP.
  • (Note: we do not track continuing education hours at state office.  This is done at the county/city level.)
D.  MD State MG Annual Report (Due March 1st)
Use Annual Report Form
Each spring, the state office of the Maryland MG Program issues an annual report to capture the program’s activities and impacts. It’s been a valuable tool for increasing our visibility and highlighting success.  Our audience for this report includes MG volunteers, clientele, partners, UME faculty and administration, state and local officials and funding organizations. The information from county/city programs will also appear on the MG website and in the Annual Reports for the MD IPM Program and the MD Nutrient Management Program.

7. Recommended Reports

SUCCESS STORIES or IMPACTS for Advocacy (Due March 1 and November 1)

We would like to highlight 2-3 successful MG projects on our website from around the state and highlight the on the "Success Stories" section of the website, add 2-3 new stories every 6 months and archive the old stories.  This is a chance to get your program in the limelight and gain deserved recognition.  

These Success Stories or IMPACTS may also appear on the AGNR website and will be mailed to elected officials. (Note: Impacts in the areas of IPM and nutrient management are especially important because these are two of our principal missions and these impacts are included in the Annual Reports for the MD IPM Program and MD Nutrient Management Program)  

8.  Summary of Reporting Dates

February 1 MG volunteer data (please include new intern information)
March 1 Information for Annual Report of State MG Program and Success Stories/IMPACTS for Advocacy.
November 1 MG data update and Success Stories/IMPACTS for Advocacy

Prepared by:
Jon Traunfeld, Regional Specialist and State MG Coordinator
January, 2005; Revised Feb., 2006 and Oct 2009


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