What activities are permitted to be logged as volunteer hours?

Examples of Volunteers Hours

·         Answer/Plant Clinic. Staffing sites where public can get information from MGs about horticulture, gardening practices, and plant problem diagnosis. MG contact with the public may be face-to-face or by telephone or email.

·         Demonstration Gardens. Creation and maintenance of gardens used for teaching about plant selection and maintenance and sustainable gardening practices. Preparing educational materials to be used in demo gardens including fact sheets, plant lists, and plant/garden labels and signs; production of vegetables and other plants to demonstrate gardening techniques and to donate to food banks and other community food programs.

·         Note: Some activities are not appropriate for certification or recertification; examples include: maintenance of Extension building landscapes or parks, community gardens, or other grounds when no educational component is involved.

·         Community Gardens. Teaching/demonstrating gardening techniques or helping to develop new community gardens. Maintenance of community gardens when no educational component is involved may not be counted as volunteer hours for MG certification or recertification.

·         Youth Outreach. Participation in educational programs with youth audiences including school gardens, community gardens, Junior MG programs, classroom activities and lessons, and age-appropriate curriculum development.

·         Storm water Education. Participation in teaching and demonstration of rain gardens or other gardening techniques for conservation/water quality purposes.

·         Other Educational Delivery. Participation in educational projects that don’t fit into the other categories listed here, including horticulture therapy programs for gardeners with limited physical or mental abilities, native plant identification and use, reduction of invasive species, presentations, workshops, garden tours, writing articles (if approved by program coordinator), compost education, etc. Research for articles and preparation for teaching a class is not part of educational delivery. Program coordinators may allow reporting of research time in continuing education or program support.

·         Program Support. Activities approved by your program coordinator that don’t result in education, but support the MG program such as helping with fundraising events, attendance at planning meetings, etc.

What are the Continuing Education requirements for Master Gardeners?

Currently the WSU Cowlitz County MG Program requires 10 hours of continuing education per year to qualify for recertification. The purpose of obtaining continuing education hours is to improve a volunteer’s knowledge and skill base for performing work as a community educator in horticulture and environmental stewardship.

What qualifies for Continuing Education?

·         Horticultural courses given by WSU, including re-taking of some MG basic training sessions.

·         Webinars, field trips, and workshops sponsored by Extension.

·         Classes offered by accredited institutions: community colleges, technical colleges, and universities.

·         WA State Department of Agriculture-approved pesticide or pesticide alternative classes. Internship Certification Retaining Certification Continuing Education (also called Advanced Education) 6

·         Classes taught by professional associations such as WA State Nursery and Landscape Association, WA Association of Landscape Professionals, International Society of Arboriculture, etc.

·         Time spent doing research preparing a MG presentation which is then delivered to the community (research-time limit of 4 times the length of the presentation).

·         Time spent doing research for a newspaper or MG newsletter article which is then published (limit of 4 hours).

·         Other activities, including training on presentation skills, meeting facilitation, or how programs are planned, delivered, or evaluated, etc., may qualify. Program coordinators must pre-approve these for continuing education credit.

What does not qualify?

·         Food preservation or preparation classes

·         Personal trips and tours not pre-approved by program coordinators

·         Garden craft or photography classes

·         Personal research or reading not related to a specific MG project

·         Travel time to and from events, unless approved by program coordinators.

What is the Difference between WSU Master Gardeners and the MG Foundation?

This can be confusing, because there is a lot of overlap of responsibilities.  The short version is this:

WSU EXTENSION MASTER GARDENERS are volunteer members of a SERVICE organization.  We are given basic training by WSU Extension in many horticultural subjects. We volunteer our time and talents to support the community outreach programs offered by our organization.  Gary Fredricks is the WSU Master Gardener Coordinator.

The MASTER GARDENER FOUNDATION of COWLITZ COUNTY is a 501(c)(3) NONPROFIT organization that FINACIALLY SUPPORTS the programs offered by the WSU Master Gardener volunteers. (WSU MGs are NOT PERMITTED to raise money).  Our Foundation also provides leadership, planning, and implementation of the programs offered by the WSU Master Gardeners.  The current Foundation President leads the board members and the Foundation members.

The programs, workshops, and outreach activities are a respectful and cooperative collaboration between the Extension MG Coordinator and the Foundation.

All WSU Master Gardeners are encouraged to join the Foundation.  However, it is not a requirement to join the Foundation.  As a Foundation member, you will be able to actively contribute to the program planning, supportive fundraising activities, develop your leadership potential and other skills, and be eligible for nomination and vote in the annual election of Foundation Board members.

What is the Annual Planning Retreat in November?

ALL MASTER GARDENERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. Your input is essential, so PLEASE JOIN US! This is the most important meeting of the year where we look at

·         What went well

·         What needs work

·         Planning for next year. We need EVERYONE’S IDEAS!

We also

·         Present projected budgets for each program area for the upcoming year.

·         Elect Foundation Board Members (President, VP, Secretary, and Treasurer) for the following year. Only Foundation members are permitted to vote, so please join the Foundation so you will be able take part in these elections. Be a part of the planning process as we move forward.

What are the member Potlucks?

Throughout the year, we have monthly get-togethers--either

·         An educational presentation at the Event (Expo) Center at the Fairgrounds, on the last Tuesday of the month.  The topics will be announced


·         A potluck in a member's garden or other location. The times for these vary depending on the hosts' schedules. They are usually held in summer.  We have two special potlucks:  The Awards Potluck is held in the first week of November, and every Master Gardener is recognized for their contributions to our organization.  The Christmas Potluck is held sometime in December, and we have a fantastic time at both events!  Your family is invited to all potlucks.  You will be asked to let us know on Doodle what you'll be bringing to share and how many guests. We ask that you bring:


o   Your favorite dish to share--entree, salad, appetizer, desert...


o   beverage

o   place settings for you and your guests (plates, silverware)

Where do I find Master Gardener Volunteer opportunities and other events?

·         We have an online calendar.   It's a great place to see all your events and volunteer opportunities. When you click on an event, a window pops up with all the details about it, including a link for you to sign up to volunteer, if it’s available for that activity.  Please add the calendar link to your bookmarks!   https://teamup.com/kseaaf848d15584493/  The calendar is also available in the Members section of our website.

·         Here’s a short tutorial on how to use the Calendar

When can I start logging my volunteer hours toward my 90 hour on-the-job training requirement?

·         You can start logging volunteer hours NOW by participating in a Master Gardener activity.  Check the Calendar!   

·         Here’s a short tutorial to show you how to log your hours

·         Here's where to report your hours: https://volunteers.cahnrs.wsu.edu   It may take a couple weeks to get your login credentials onto the site, so keep track of your hours until you’re told it’s ready.  Then be sure to log your hours as you complete each activity—it’s so easy to forget!

·         Your login credentials will be: The email address you gave to Gary when you enrolled.  Your password is password!   Make sure you type the exclamation point after the word!!

·          BTW--your hours MUST be reported on a monthly basis or WSU's liability and Workers Comp insurance won't cover you! I have a daily reminder set on my Gmail calendar to remind me!

How to become a Master Gardener—no prior gardening experience necessary!

See our MG Brochure for complete information

Prerequisites for becoming a WSU Master Gardener:

·         Be at least 18 years old

·         Have a passion for gardening

·         Have an inquiring mind and a zest for learning

·         Have a willingness to volunteer service hours and enthusiasm to share your knowledge with the people in our community