How to Become a Master Gardener

Being a Master Gardener is about becoming a VOLUNTEER with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension to help educate the public about gardening and natural resources. It’s not about knowing everything about gardening. It’s about learning to ask the right questions and knowing how to look up information from appropriate resources.

Being a Master Gardener is about helping deliver meaningful community programs to improve the well-being of individuals and communities, to protect natural resources, and to help keep fresh fruits and vegetables on the table. It’s about working in tandem with Extension staff and other volunteers to make a difference in the places we live, learn, and work.

Training is required to become a Master Gardener Volunteer. As of fall 2020, what was known as Level 1 Master Gardener Training became two new expanded courses; Foundations in Horticulture and Master Gardener Program Onboarding.

Foundations in Horticulture

Foundations in Horticulture (FIH) is for individuals interested in expanding their Wisconsin horticulture knowledge. This interactive, online course taught by Extension Educators and includes readings, videos, online discussions, and live webinars. Foundations in Horticulture provides a solid foundation in horticulture and covers topics including plant disease, insect, weed, wildlife pests, woody and herbaceous ornamental plants, vegetables, fruits, and lawns. FIH is an online program supported by the Wisconsin Master Gardener State Program office. As adults learn in many ways and need flexibility, other options for individuals to learn the necessary horticultural content will be available in the post-pandemic world.

Registration is closed for the fall 2020 FIH course. To receive information regarding FIH training in 2021, please fill out this Google Form. (If you do not live in Milwaukee or Waukesha counties, please contact the master gardener coordinator or Extension educator in the Wisconsin county where you live.)

Master Gardener Program Onboarding

The Master Gardener Program Onboarding course, to be introduced in January of 2021, will fulfill the requirements to become a certified Master Gardener Volunteer. You must have completed or be enrolled in the FIH course to register for the Master Gardener Program Onboarding course. By participating in the Onboarding course, participants receive an orientation to the Extension Master Gardener program and complete the University requirements to become a master gardener volunteer.  One of the requirements of the Onboarding course is to pass the Master Gardener exam (open book/open notes) that tests basic horticulture knowledge (gained through FIH).

Please contact Susan Taylor at or 414-615-0516 with any questions.