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The Chaffee County Extension office provides assistance and programs for citizens in five main areas: Agriculture, Horticulture, Family and Consumer Science, Natural Resources and 4-H Youth Programs.

Colorado Master Gardeners   arrow

Wherever you are in Colorado, we’re local.

Growing Plants. Growing People.

The Colorado Master Gardener program is a unique intersection between University Horticulture expertise and community volunteers interested in educating locally.

Who are Colorado Master Gardeners?

We’re hands-on in educational school gardens, we’re helping grow food for local communities, and we’re passionate about pollinators. Some of us are tree-huggers, most of us are plant (and insect) lovers.

We all get that gardening here takes grit. Which is why we’re providing local expertise for Colorado’s diverse plants and people. We are Colorado Master Gardeners. Powered by Colorado State University.


The Colorado State University Colorado Master Gardener Program volunteer network strives to enhance Coloradans’ quality of life by:

  • Extending knowledge-based education throughout Colorado communities to foster successful gardeners;
  • Helping individuals make informed decisions about plants to protect neighborhood environments.

We are committed to using horticulture to empower gardeners, develop partnerships and build stronger communities.

CSU is an equal-access and equal-opportunity University.


The Colorado State University, Colorado Master Gardener Program strives to lead educational efforts to nurture Colorado’s natural environment and communities by:

  • Collaborating with the green industry, public agencies and nonprofits to provide current research-based information to the public;
  • Developing educational programs for local needs such as water issues, alternative pest management and ecosystem characteristics, to encourage environmentally sound horticultural practices;
  • Reaching out to new audiences through a variety of technologies;
  • Providing lifelong learning opportunities and a variety of meaningful volunteer options for Colorado Master Gardeners, resulting in a committed, active network of horticultural educators who serve communities across the state;
  • Cultivating long-term support and securing abundant resources from diverse constituencies for the Colorado Master Gardener Program by showing the differences that this program makes in Coloradans’ quality of life.

Step 1: Learn about our program

We’re looking for volunteers interested in education and outreach using research-based horticulture information. As a Master Gardener, you’ll be a CSU Extension volunteer giving back in your local community.

Newly accepted volunteers begin as Apprentices. This means you’re in-training to become a Master Gardener. We provide 10 weeks of core training courses that occur through hybrid instruction: online, live webinars (also recorded) and in-person when possible.

Following training, apprentices are encouraged to engage in local projects which vary widely. We require a 50-hour volunteer commitment your first year. There is a two-year Apprentice option that allows 60-hours to be completed over 2 years. Please note: We understand the barriers COVID-19 has placed on in-person volunteering. While we are offering creative volunteer opportunities, we are very flexible and understand these unique circumstances.

If you’re simply interested in hobby gardening (hey, we love it too!), we have other great avenues for you to consider including:

  • Certified Colorado Gardener Program which allows you to audit the Master Gardener courses – take the full training or a bundled short course. It’s a Colorado-specific horticulture training without the volunteer commitment.
  • Online Gardening Classes offered exclusively through CSU Online where you can earn a digital badge as a Certified Gardener or simply take one of 17 self-paced courses without an ongoing training commitment.

Step 2: Find a program near you

Check out the counties currently offering the Master Gardener program and which counties are accepting CMG applications this fall for 2023. You’re encouraged to connect with a program in the county where you live and apply online between September 1 – October 16th.

If you’re moving here from another state where you served as a Master Gardener, we welcome you to our program but do require that you complete our application process and training. Colorado can be a tough place to garden – we think you’ll appreciate the education you receive through our Colorado-specific training.

Step 3: Apply!

If you’ve decided you’re interested in plant education and outreach and you’d like to volunteer in your local community then it’s time to apply! Follow these steps:

  1. See the list of counties accepting volunteers for 2023
  2. Read our Colorado Master Gardener application information first
  3. Apply online between September 1 – October 16th

Step 4: Complete training courses

Regardless of your location, all Colorado Master Gardeners (CMG) receive in-depth horticulture training provided by University faculty, staff, and specialists. Training is critical to ensure that all volunteers have access to the information necessary to support our mission.

Our initial training offers flexible, remote and hybrid training options. This includes self-paced online courses and live weekly webinar Q&A sessions with subject matter experts from CSU. Combined with optional in-person activities and hands-on labs (varies by local county programs), you’ll have the flexibility to learn at home and practice with fellow volunteers.

Registration information: Following the CMG online application and selection process in your local county, you’ll be provided a link to register and pay for Green School in December 2022.


Courses are specific to Colorado’s climate, soil, environment, insects, wildlife, and plants. Training is a big commitment and includes reading (online, no text required), homework, in-class activities and lectures.

Want to know more? See the CMG GREEN SCHOOL SYLLABUS

Step 5: Engage in local projects

The CMG Volunteer’s audience is exclusively home gardeners. Including landscape plants, turfgrass, and trees as well as house plants, vegetable gardens and greenhouses.

Types of volunteer service can include answering phone calls and emails at county Extension offices, staffing diagnostic clinics, teaching gardening classes, writing newspaper and website articles and mentoring community gardening and greening projects.

Step 6: Report and renew

Colorado Master Gardeners are active across the state and their impacts are impressive. We have a user-friendly reporting system so that logging hours, reporting outreach and signing up for projects is simple. We’re required to report our efforts locally and to the state annually – we want to show off the good work our volunteers are doing!

After we’ve put our outdoor gardens to bed, we start our annual renewal process for all Master Gardeners. Continuing CMGs must contribute at least 24 hours of volunteer service annually and complete 12 continuing education hours (often provided by CSU in your local county or online). CMGs in good standing complete renewal paperwork and contribute annual dues (typically less than $35) to recommit for the upcoming year.