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URI Outreach Center

URI Master Gardener Program

Are you the next URI Master Gardener?

To help you decide if you should apply for URI Master Gardener Program, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge of sustainable gardening and environmental stewardship with people in Rhode Island's communities?
  • Am I eager to participate in a practical and intensive horticultural training program?
  • Do I have time to attend the training and to complete my volunteer work?

If you answered 'yes' to these questions, consider applying for the 2015 URI Master Gardener Program.

2015 URI Master Gardener Core Training Application PDF (MS Word)

Upon acceptance in to the program, applicants will learn about full scholarship options from the URI Master Gardener Association.

Each January, URI faculty and Cooperative Extension staff, URI Master Gardeners and local experts offer instruction on the basics of plant science, sustainable gardening and environmental stewardship during the 14-week URI Master Gardener Program. From January to May, trainees attend classroom lectures to learn the fundamentals of backyard gardening including: soil and plant nutrition, plant propagation and physiology, entomology, plant diseases, gardening for wildlife and water quality, sustainable turf management, pruning, composting, fruit and vegetable production and organic gardening. Each student receives a digital copy of the RI Sustainable Gardening Manual, with readings from the manual, take-home quizzes and in-class activities to solidify concepts. Optional Saturday sessions allow students to go more in-depth into certain topic areas.


Upon successful completion of the URI Master Gardener Program, trainees become "URI Master Gardener Interns" and are required to complete 50 hours of volunteer service to earn the title of certified "URI Master Gardener"*. This on-the-job training allows participants to apply the concepts learned in class. URI Master Gardeners teach sustainable gardening techniques to their neighbors, with volunteer projects that contribute to improved environmental conditions and quality of life in the Ocean State.

*URI Master Gardeners are agents of the URI Cooperative Extension and are covered by the University's liability insurance. The title "URI Master Gardener" is applicable to those who attend and complete the URI Master Garden Program and complete the required 50 hours of volunteer service. The title and certificate should be used on employment applications as an educational achievement by active volunteers only.

Volunteer Internship

URI Master Gardener interns are encouraged to 'graduate' to become a certified URI Master Gardener by completing 50 internship hours. Interns complete their initial 50 volunteer hours through a variety of approved Master Gardener projects available statewide.

Typical ongoing opportunities include:

1) Fielding gardening questions at local exhibits or on the URI Master Gardener Hotline;

2) Tending URI Master Gardener demonstration gardens (i.e. vegetable, rose, native);

3) Teaching children about the environment through the URI Learning Landscape Program;

4) Growing food to be donated to local food pantries;

5) Raising plants in the URI Master Gardener greenhouses;

6) Consulting at community gardens around the state;

7) Gathering native plant seed for propagation by Rhode Island's growers;

8) Tending tropicals inside the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center or leading docent tours around the facility;

9) Raising blight-resistant American chestnuts;

10) Lecturing on horticultural and environmental topics around the state.

The Coordinators and leadership in the URI Master Gardener Association (MGA) will coach you and support your efforts to work in approved URI Master Gardener volunteer projects and teams.

Other Benefits

After earning the title of URI Master Gardener, you are eligible to attend other continuing education opportunities for free and discounted rates and qualify to join the URI Master Gardener Association. Along with the camaraderie, you will share their knowledge and expertise and offer help and assistance to the general public. Regular membership meetings and gardening seminars and tours are among the many activities sponsored by the URI MGA.

Sustainable Horticulture & Urban Agriculture

Garden Projects at Roger Williams Park

Landscape Restoration Program

Learning Landscape Program

Master Composter Training

Master Gardener Program

Outreach at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

Rhody Native Training


Master gardener program

URI Master Gardener Hotline

Request for URI MG Speakers (PDF)

Useful links for URI Master Gardeners


New Fruit Pest: Spotted Wing Drosophila


"I already loved gardening and nature but it is amazing how differently I view things, look for different things while walking or driving, and think about things! What a gift the Master Gardener program is." -Student, URI Master Gardener Class of 2013

"I have had an awesome experience in the Master Gardener Program this year! I have learned so much, which is changing what I do in my own little corner of the planet and I love the opportunities to volunteer." -Kathy Fandetti, URI Master Gardener Class of 2013

"I just wanted to write a quick note to thank the Master Gardeners for being such a warm and friendly resource for all us novice gardeners. It's a wonderful thing to have a community of such enthusiastic volunteers who can pass their wealth of knowledge on to the next generation of gardeners - and to preserve a simpler way of life!" - Community member after interacting with a Master Gardener at a public event.