University of Saskatchewan Master Gardener Program
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a Master Gardener? Master Gardeners volunteer their time to assist people with horticulture in their own communities. They share their knowledge and experience with fellow gardeners, friends, neighbours, youth and seniors. This sharing consists of a varied range of activities that may include:
- helping seniors or less-able individuals garden
- answering a garden phone-in line for your community
- designing, planting or maintaining community gardens in public places such as hospitals, schools, parks, etc.
- developing horticultural therapy programs
- writing a garden column for our newsletter or for your local paper
- teaching gardening classes for your local community colleges, associations or recreation departments
- The list goes on... “If you think there is a need you can fill it!”
- How long has the Master Gardener Program been around? It began in 1972 in the state of Washington. It has since grown to include about 48 states and all the Canadian provinces. There are currently over 60,000 Master Gardeners across North America. The University of Saskatchewan program began in 1989.
- Why should I get my Master Gardener certification from the University of Saskatchewan? Quite simply, the University of Saskatchewan has earned its reputation as a high caliber agricultural university. We are not a volunteer-based program; the U of S Master Gardener Program hires trained and experienced professionals to teach all courses and workshops. Our “bug guy” Professor Cedric Gillot, PhD has written University textbooks on Insects. In addition to instructing the core insect course, he also wrote the Insects in Your Yard and Garden distance education course. Sara Williams, a well-known author and well-respected horticulturalist, helped launch this program and still teaches several courses with us each year. During our classes, students have access to sites and materials from throughout the University. For example, in our Tree and Shrub ID class, students examine specimens gathered on campus and may bring home samples from over 15 different key species.
- How long does it take to become certified as a U of S Master Gardener? Each person’s timeline is unique. Some people finish the core courses of the program during Hort Week, others attend workshops or take distance education courses as their schedules allow and may take several years to complete the core courses. Throughout the educational training, students are encouraged to work on the home study portion of the course materials by reviewing the course texts. Of course, the timeline for completing the “internship” portion (40h volunteering in a horticultural capacity) is highly personal as well. For ideas on where to gain the volunteer hours, go to the Volunteering & Master Gardener Projects page. Finally, students challenge the take-home open-book final examination.
- Is there a deadline from when I start the program until I finish the program? No, you can register for the program at any time and take as long as you need to complete the program requirements.
- What are the entrance requirements to be accepted into the program? Anyone interested in horticulture who is 16 years or older may join our program. We require no specific educational prerequisites but be aware that all the courses are challenging so be prepared to learn. If you have an extensive background in horticulture or have previously taken certificate/diploma courses that pertain to a specific core course, you may be eligible for an exemption. For example, Applied Botany PHC students would be exempted from Garden Fundamentals–Botany; and educators would be exempted from Communications.
- What costs are involved in the educational portion of the program? The total cost of the program including registration, all seven core courses (six and a half days of class time), examination, and certification is under $600. Only the registration fee is payable up front, the core course fees are due whenever you chose to enroll in a course.
- Are all of the core courses available by distance education? Not yet. Currently only Garden Fundamentals and Botanical Latin are available via distance education. Safe Use of Pesticides and Alternatives and Insects in Your Yard and Garden are currently being designed for distance delivery.
- I’ve taken University of Saskatchewan Master Gardener courses in the past, can I get credit for those? We’ve recently revised many of our classes, you may benefit from retaking them. That being said, we do have limited records for previous registrations but can not guarantee how far back those records will go since it varies on an individual basis. To guarantee that you do not lose credit for the courses you take in the future or have already taken, we recommend registering in the program. For the $150 registration fee, we will track all courses and workshops taken, provide you with a course text, and you will receive program information including the newsletter as well as special 'University of Saskatchewan Master Gardener only' invitations for events or opportunities within the University.
- How do I apply to U of S the Master Gardener program? Call 306.966.5546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.
- How often to you hold hands-on workshops? We offer all of the core courses at least twice per year. Courses start in the spring and continue through to summer. Every core course is offered during Hort Week as well.
- Are the hands on courses always held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK? Though most of our workshops are held in Saskatoon, we have started hosting some in Regina, SK. We are also going to be bringing courses into other communities through the local Regional Colleges via satellite communication. If you are interested in having course or workshops in your area, please let us know.
- What is the difference between in class and distance education choices? Both the in class and distance education choices offer the same high caliber educational material, students in both classes will receive identical information packages for their reference. The main difference between the two, and one of the key strengths to the in class, is the hands on activities we offer in class. Wherever possible, our courses are designed to accommodate practical activities to help gardeners solidify their horticultural knowledge.
- I’m currently a U of S Master Gardener and I’ve noticed that you’ve revised many of the core courses recently. How does this affect me? Our program content has always been strong. Though we’ve made a few adjustments, in most courses no significant content changes have been made. So why the revisions? When we were speaking to students, we heard time and again that the in class activities and discussions were most useful for their growth as a horticulturalist so we’ve revisited the core courses to include more practical activities to help link the horticulture science to our gardening practices. For example, we’ve added some basic soil testing activities to the soil science portion of Garden Fundamentals. The only course to undergo significant content changes was our core course Communications but any Master Gardeners who received credit for the previous version do not need to retake the course.
- What is Hort Week? Every year, the University of Saskatchewan hosts gardening enthusiasts for a week of horticulture workshops, course, tours and social events. Gardeners of any experience level may find classes of interest and meet people who share their enthusiasm for gardening. In addition to offering all of our core courses, a wide variety of specialized courses, free tours, and social events are available. In 2008, we ran over 50 workshops and tours. Some examples of workshops we have offered include Hypertufa Containers, Organic Gardening, Residential Landscaping, Basic and Advanced Perennials, Rare and Unusual Grasses, Dwarf Trees & Shrubs, plus many more. Courses run throughout the day, with typical start times of 9 am, 1 pm, and 7 pm.
- Is Hort Week strictly courses & workshops? Of course not! In addition to the free tours offered, we will have free social activities planned throughout the week.
- When is Hort Week? Hort Week typically runs the second week in July each year.
- What courses do you have scheduled for Hort Week this year? Though registration is not available until early summer, we will keep updating the HortWeek page with course information as it becomes available!
- How do I register for workshops or other free tours and events during Hort Week? The Hort Week brochures are usually available in late spring. To be among the first to know, please join our mailing list. Some classes fill up very quickly so register early!
Email email@example.com or call 306.966.5546