URI Master Gardeners participate in meaningful volunteer activities that protect environmental quality, improve the local food system and build healthier communities. The URI Master Gardener Program utilizes the train-the-trainer approach to amplify the impact of Cooperative Extension in Rhode Island and surrounding areas. Community-minded lifelong learners of all ages with an interest in education are encouraged to apply.
The URI Master Gardener Core Training is a fourteen-week course on the fundamentals of horticulture taught by URI faculty, extension educators and local experts. Graduates of the URI Master Gardener Core Training serve as grassroots educators, bringing the science base of the land grant university system to residents, children, community gardeners and families. URI Master Gardener volunteers have a positive impact locally, while continuing to learn about cutting-edge gardening practices and functional gardening. Our volunteers:
- Provide research-based information at farmer’s markets, local events, in-garden presentations, school gardens and through the hotline and email service.
- Grow food for local food pantries and empower community gardeners, youth and families to grow their own food and cook with fresh, healthy ingredients.
- Display cutting edge gardening techniques in demonstration gardens to encourage gardening for biodiversity, water quality improvement and increased yields in small spaces.
The Core Training curriculum, taught by URI faculty, staff and industry experts includes:
- Soil science and plant nutrition
- Botany and plant propagation
- Plant diseases
- Organic gardening techniques
- Food Safety
- Gardening for wildlife and water quality
- Sustainable turf management
- Vegetable production
- Fruit pruning
Each student receives access to online course readings with take-home quizzes and in-class activities to solidify concepts. Optional hands-on 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 extend their learning by working in teams on approved projects throughout Rhode Island and surrounding communities.
The application period for the 2017 course is now closed. The application period for the 2018 class will open from May-November 1, 2017.
“Thank you for the well thought out sequence of topics and fantastic choice of instructors. Thank you, one more time, for the array of interesting volunteer opportunities and the wonderful people that are part of each project. This opportunity not only allows me to pursue my interest but also become part of the larger community…”
– URIMGP Class of 2016 Intern
“Core (training) very well organized including different learning styles-auditory, visual and reading… The volunteering opportunities are so well thought out and provide wonderful opportunities to teach, create gardens, support others, nourish the spirit and they are diverse in respect to our varied interests…Because of this course I am so encouraged to look for work in a non profit that supports the community through food and nutrition, which was always a desire when applying for the class. Much gratitude!!”
– URIMGP Class of 2016 Intern