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Colorado State University Extension operates in partnership with the El Paso County Community Services Division to provide non-credit programming to local citizens.

What is a Colorado Master Gardener?

Colorado Master Gardeners (CMG) are trained volunteer educators who support and assist CSU Extension staff in delivering research-based gardening information.  The CMG volunteer’s audience is exclusively home gardeners.  Examples of CMG volunteer activities include answering inquiries through the County Extension office, providing education, recommendations and troubleshooting of plant problems.  CMGs also teach gardening classes, write newspaper articles, staff demonstration and information booths. The CMG training is offered January – March, and is entirely online. You can complete the weekly class at any time during each week.  It is ten week training.  There is an application/screening process and a fee to become a Colorado Master Gardener volunteer.

Becoming a CMG is a rewarding experience.  You will learn new things, meet new people, engage with your local community and become a part of a fun, friendly and meaningful group of volunteers.  In El Paso County our volunteer retention rate is consistently high, and volunteers continue with the program for many years.

For more information about the statewide Colorado Master Gardener program, visit


Master Gardener/Colorado Garden Certificate (Green School) Program in El Paso County

Did you know that there are two options for getting the Colorado-specific Green School Training?

One is to apply to become a Master Gardener Volunteer.  This option has limited space, requires an interview, a background check and 50 hours of volunteer service in the first year. 

The second is to take the same training without the volunteer option. There is no limit on space for this option, no interview, no background check, and no volunteer commitment.

For both options, the initial horticulture training requires completion of all on-line classes and completion of homework assignments and weekly reading, and a 70% or better on the final exam. Extension program are available to all without discrimination.We proudly uphold the CSU Principles of Community:

Master Gardener Volunteer Option

How do I know this is right for me?

People often ask what we are looking for in a volunteer. It is a person whose primary interest in the Colorado Master Gardener program is to become a valued volunteer who works with El Paso Extension to help the gardening public. The ideal volunteer is a life-long learner, with an interest in learning about diagnosing plant problems and helping plants thrive (there is something new to learn every day!), and willing to adhere to CSU Extension protocols on giving only unbiased, research-based advice. We are also interested in people who are self-starters and willing to be leaders on our different projects (organizing details, people, etc.), and who have follow-through skills. Volunteers must be comfortable with computers and have a working computer and internet at home, since much of our work takes place over the computer, including the training and our volunteer management system. Finally, we are also especially interested in people who are willing to make presentations to the public- online for our Lunch and Learn Series and others, in person to libraries, garden clubs, and more.

The Master Gardener program costs $200. We have a scholarship program, thanks to a donation from a former Master Gardener, Ed Carley, so please inquire if needed.  A new apprentice is expected to give back 50 hours of volunteer service during their first year by Oct 31, and 24 hours every year thereafter.  A primary activity is to help the public diagnose and correct gardening problems at the Help Desk. Help Desk shifts do take place during the regular work week, so this may be a consideration for some of you,- we may have other options. Other volunteer activities include delivering presentations, writing newspaper articles and social media posts, helping mentor gardeners in organizations, and other fun projects.  All activities MUST be approved by the horticulture agent.  We have a wonderful, active group of volunteers, and look forward to welcoming you into the program if it seems like a good fit for both parties.

Here is more detailed information about the Colorado Master Gardener program:

If this seems like a good fit for you, then please put your name in on our interest list:  

Certified Colorado Gardener Option

If your primary interest is the educational piece, and the volunteer commitment is a bit daunting, or not what you expected, then a better fit may be  to take the Colorado Garden Certificate option (CGC) or Green School– it’s the exact same training, but with no volunteer commitment. You will automatically be accepted into the certificate program, unlike the volunteer option. The CGC training costs $530. If you are on the fence about which option you want, or you are not selected for the volunteer program, please apply to be a CGC. If you want to be notified when registration opens, please put your name down on the interest list:  

For more information about the certified Colorado Gardener program:

Keeping ahead of COVID-19

This rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) has imposed an unsettling, fluid situation upon our community and its businesses. While the team here still aims to maintain a “business as usual” approach, we are making a number of significant changes to our operations to account for a situation that is far from normal.