Travis County Master Gardener Training

Travis County Master Gardener Training now open

Travis County Master Gardener Training

The Travis County Master Gardeners are volunteers for the Travis County AgriLife Extension Service, assisting in Extension’s mission to disseminate research-based horticultural and environmental knowledge among the citizens of Central Texas.

Training to become a Travis County Master Gardener volunteer is conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service a maximum of once per year, but not necessarily held every year.  The limited number of spaces in the program are filled based on assessment of the applications and personal interviews.

The 2021 training program is full. You can receive a notification about the 2022 program by adding your name to our Google form.

The training has two parts, allowing interested individuals to learn more about gardening in Austin without having to commit to subsequent volunteer hours.

Preferred Skills for Master Gardener Candidates

Successful applicants to the Travis County Master Gardener program have the following list of characteristics, skills, and interests:

  • Enjoys helping others
  • Enjoys speaking to groups of people
  • A willingness to lead projects or events
  • Is a lifelong learner
  • Has experience teaching others through volunteer work, community organizations, or professional career
  • Can successfully work with others in both small and large groups
  • Has experience with social media either personally or professionally
  • Is willing to contribute blog posts, articles, photographs, or go on camera in virtual formats like webinars or videos
  • Loves to garden!

Part 1 Prerequisite Training

The Travis County Master Gardener volunteer training with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service begins with a series of virtual, self-paced webinars presented by AgriLife Extension specialists, staff, and Texas Master Gardeners. This Part 1 Prerequisite virtual course begins with an information session explaining how the two-part of Texas Master Gardener program training will unfold. When the training class opens, the cost of the prerequisite course is $150 Early, $200 Regular, payable upon registration. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the program.

Part 1 of the 2021 Travis County Master Gardener training will be completely virtual and utilizes Microsoft Teams. It will consist of two parts: one weekly pre-recorded seminar (self-paced) and one weekly Q&A session (the schedule will be determined when the program is opened for new applicants). Webinars will be presented by various Extension personnel, and the Q&A sessions will be led by Travis County CEA-Hort, Daphne Richards. Q&A sessions are held during the workweek.

Topics for Part 1 are: Hort 101; Earth-Kind Principles; Soils; Water & Irrigation; Entomology; Turfgrass; Plant Pathology; Fruit Crops; and Vegetables. Other pre-recorded webinar topics are also available to course participants.

The weekly Q&A sessions for Part 1 will be held during the workweek via Microsoft Teams. You can use Teams via web browser, but it functions best by utilizing the Microsoft Teams app. If you are using an Apple iOS device, you must use a Chrome browser to access Teams, or download the Teams app. Microsoft Teams does not function on the Safari browser. The course materials for this prerequisite training series are a series of links and materials that are found only within the Microsoft Teams app.

Part 1 is limited to 250 people.

Part 2 Hands-on Master Gardener Training

Only those who successfully complete Part 1 are invited to apply for Part 2. Part 2 is a multi-week, in-person/hands-on training, starting in early in the year. About 25 participants from Part 1 will be selected to participate in Part 2, which includes the Texas Master Gardener Handbook, will cover additional subject matter, and will incur an additional registration fee. Part 2 includes the requisite volunteer service to become fully certified TCMG volunteers.

Applications for Part 2 Hands-On Master Gardener Training Limited to Part 1 Graduates

Only those who successfully complete Part 1 are invited to apply for Part 2. Part 2 is tentatively set to be a multi-week, in-person/hands-on training, starting early in the year. About 25 participants from Part 1 will be selected to participate in Part 2, which includes the Texas Master Gardener Handbook, will cover additional subject matter, and will incur an additional registration fee. Part 2 includes the requisite volunteer service to become fully certified TCMG volunteers. Applications are not available elsewhere.

Applicant Interviews

After reviewing the applications, the selection committee chooses approximately 40 applicants for interviews. About 25 applicants receive admission into the program.

Training Cost

The total fee for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the Master Gardener program in Travis County is $300 for early registration, $350 for regular registration, payable upon acceptance into the program.

Criminal Background Check Required

A criminal background check is required of all Extension volunteers, including Master Gardeners.  Therefore, as a matter of policy, criminal background checks occur on all persons accepted into the Master Gardener training program, and every three years thereafter.

Training Schedule

The course normally meets virtually once a week using Microsoft Teams. Additional training will be scheduled as needed (or allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions) at the Travis County Extension office, 1600 Smith Rd, Austin, 78721. At this time the course meets on week days during office hours.

Volunteer Commitment

Volunteers will complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service by December 31 of their first year. Only approved Extension projects count toward the volunteer commitment.

Certification

Participants earn the title “Texas Master Gardener” after they have completed the training course, passed the final exam, and fulfilled their volunteer commitment. Certified Master Gardeners must continue to complete volunteer and learning requirements each year in order to retain the title “Texas Master Gardener.”

More information about Master Gardeners is available on the Texas Master Gardener Association web page.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will provide equal opportunities in programs and activities, education, and employment to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas cooperating.

Persons with disabilities who plan to attend a meeting and who may need auxiliary aids or services are required to contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Travis County at 512-854-9600 ten working days prior to the meeting so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Additional Resources

Get Expert Gardening Advice from a Travis County Master Gardener

Our Favorite Gardening Resources for Austin and Travis County

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