Become a Louisiana Master Gardener

Sara Shields  |  5/3/2017 12:41:37 PM


Master Gardeners are members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens. They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and help others, and able to communicate with diverse groups of people.

What really sets Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture. In exchange for their training, people who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their local Master Gardener Program Coordinator to provide horticulture-related information to their communities.

Any Louisiana resident with an interest in horticulture and a desire to volunteer for community service may apply to the Master Gardener Training Program. Master Gardeners moving from other states are evaluated on a case-by-case basis through discussion with the individual, local coordinator, and State Coordinator.

A volunteer in training must attend at least 80 percent of the prescribed hours of instruction. Once a trainee completes the instruction and examination phase, the individual gains the title of “Louisiana Master Gardener Apprentice.” From that point, the Intern has a maximum of one year to complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service. Upon meeting the volunteer requirements, the apprentice earns the title of certified "Louisiana Master Gardener."

In order to retain the Louisiana Master Gardener title, individuals are required to complete a minimum of 20 volunteer service hours and six continuing education hours each year. Documentation requirements and validation of volunteer service and continuing education hours are under the supervision of the local Master Gardener Program Coordinator or individual designated by the coordinator.

The Louisiana Master Gardener training program provides a balanced, integrated, practical course in gardening. Special topics, based on Louisiana gardening needs, are part of the curriculum and involve a balance of lecture and hands-on activities. The training is provided by LSU AgCenter Extension faculty and other horticulture experts.

Primary topics covered in the training include:

  • Soils and Plant Nutrition
  • Basic Botany and Plant Propagation
  • Basic Plant Pathology and Entomology
  • Vegetable Gardening
  • Fruit Culture
  • Woody Ornamentals
  • Annuals and Perennials
  • Lawn Management and Weeds
  • Environmental Horticulture
  • Diagnostics/Problem Solving

Classroom participation must include 80 percent attendance during the training period. Class format differs by program, but most of the programs are held for three to six hours one or two days per week, and generally conducted at a parish Extension office. Upon completion of the formal coursework, participants are required to satisfactorily pass a comprehensive examination on the materials covered.

To graduate as a Master Gardener, each trainee must pass a final examination. Examinations are prepared by the local Master Gardener Program coordinator in collaboration with class instructors.

Examinations are open-book and designed to help a trainee’s ability to retrieve information from the Master Gardener handbook and other horticultural resources.

A score of 70 percent or higher is needed to pass.

Louisiana offers 27 parish-level Master Gardener programs with volunteer participation in 58 parishes. LMG trainings are offered at various times during the year and at various parish Extension offices across the state.

To help you decide if you should apply to be a Master Gardener, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants?
  • Am I eager to participate in a practical and intense training program?
  • Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge with people in my community?
  • Do I have enough time to attend training and to complete the volunteer service?

If you answered yes to these questions, the Master Gardener program could be for you.

The base fee for participation in the Louisiana Master Gardener Program is $150.

This amount covers costs for the training manual, name badge, certificate and supporting educational materials.

Additional overhead cost may be included as determined by the local Master Gardener Program coordinator and may vary from one parish to another depending on local situations.

Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans
Classes begin Tuesday, May 23, 2017
For more information, contact Anna Timmerman with the Jefferson Parish Extension Office at 504-736-6519 Or Dr. Joe Willis with the Orleans Parish Extension Office at 504-658-2900.

Piney Hills Master Gardener Program
Classes begin Thursday, June 1, 2017
Deadline to enter is May 12, 2017
For more information, contact Lee Faulk, County Agent, at either the Webster Parish Extension Office, 318-371-1371, or the Claiborne Parish Extension Office, 318-927-3110.

East Baton Rouge Master Gardener Program
Classes begin Tuesday, June 6, 2017
For more information, contact Lee Rouse with the EBR Extension Office at 225-389-3055.

Northeast Louisiana Master Gardener Program
Classes begin Thursday, September 7, 2017
Deadline to enter is August 1, 2017
For more information, contact the Ouachita Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office by calling 318-323-2251.

Beauregard Master Gardener Program
Classes begin Thursday, January 4, 2018
Location of classes: Sherriff’s Training Center, 412 Bolivar Bishop Drive, DeRidder, LA
For more information, contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, with the Beauregard Extension Office at 337-463-7006 or by emailing

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