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 2018 class will open from May 9-November 1, 2017. The online application form will be found here. Applicants will receive a confirmation email and will be informed of their acceptance to the program, registration details and scholarship options after the November 1 deadline.
“Yes, I did achieve my learning goals. The class was so well designed that I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the course. I feel this course was life changing. I learned I really have a love for nature not just flowers and finding ways to improve our environment. My hope is to serve as an educator to children and adults.” -Graduate of the URIMGP Class of 2017
“I’m not going to do the same things that I was doing before this class….ever! Looking at the entire cycle of our environment just makes sense to me. I’d spray every bug to death every chance I got. Not such a good idea now. When one considers how most things are interrelated here, it’s pretty easy to see the cause and effect of bad practices. Or of good practices. I think that the most profound change is the ability now to look at a situation, analyze and research it (if needed) and make a sound judgment based on good research. Where to place plants, grasses and veggies are pretty simple. Why to place them there requires a bit more effort. That’s the real impact of this course. Why to do the it. How to do it. When to do it.” – Graduate of the URIMGP Class of 2017
“I look forward to opportunities to sound like a smarty-pants! More specifically, I’m really impassioned by native plants. As someone who works in history in the cultural-heritage sector, it’s exciting to think of living history through our food and our environment. Having been a CSA participant and appreciated eating food that can be grown in this environment in the season it can be grown in this environment, I understood the importance of local farming. But I hadn’t quite thought of it for environmental purposes. I didn’t think that it mattered if I chose Rosa Virginiana or Rosa Rugosa, but it does. There’s a sense of hometown pride and honoring my New England heritage by honoring local and native plants. I dig that – like a lot.” – Graduate of the URIMGP Class of 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…”
– Graduate of the URIMGP Class of 2016
“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!!” – Graduate of the URIMGP Class of 2016