How to Become an Extension Master Gardner

From the Ground Up - Becoming an Extension Master Gardener

Do you love gardening? Have you always wanted to learn more? Do you like volunteer work? Do you love to share? Then you can become an Extension Master Gardener.

Who are the Lea County Extension Master Gardeners?

An Extension Master Gardener is a family member, friend, or neighbor who loves gardening and has found a way to share that love while providing a service to the community. Extension Master Gardeners are members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens. They are enthusiastic and are willing to learn and help others. What really sets Extension Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture.

How can I become an Extension Master Gardener?

To start, attend the Extension Master Gardener training program held in Lea County. New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension specialists, agents, and local experts provide volunteers 40 hours of online instruction in basic horticulture. The topics include lawn care, botany, soil and plant nutrition, weed and pest management, vegetables, fruits and other related topics. Anyone who participates in and successfully completes 40 hours of classroom education completes the first step to becoming an Extension Master Gardener. Next, complete 40 hours of volunteer service to become certified to use the title New Mexico Extension Master Gardener. Each year thereafter, Extension Master Gardeners must contribute 20 volunteer hours to retain their certification.

The Lea County Cooperative Extension Service encourages anyone interested in learning more about gardening to attend the Extension Master Gardener training program. Completing the additional requirements to become a certified Extension Master Gardener is a choice you voluntarily make after completing the training.

What kind of volunteer activities are there?

Some of the varied Master Gardener volunteer activities are:

  • Answering various gardening questions received by the Lea County Cooperative Extension Service
  • Sponsor Extension Master Gardener Training with the NMSU Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service
  • Conduct home visits to assist friends and neighbors with their gardening questions
  • Plan, host, or attend garden tours in surrounding areas
  • Promote community projects, such as landscaping the historical Waits House in Lovington or participate in the community garden produce growing and donations in Hobbs
  • Attend the annual New Mexico Master Gardeners Conference and other regional conferences
  • Sponsor the Flower Show and provide an informational booth at the Lea County Fair
  • On request, provide talks to clubs and schools, mentor youth gardening groups, support community gardening projects, as well as work on a team to develop and maintain demonstration gardens.

When and where is the next training? 

Training for the 2024 year will begin the week of January 15th. Classes are offered online and will be conducted weekly through April, which can either be completed on your own or in a group setting at a time and place TBD. If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener or have questions regarding the training, contact the Lea County Cooperative Extension Service at 575-396-2819 or