Southwest MI EMG Resources

Welcome Extension Master Gardeners, Trainees, and anyone interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener!

Here, you will find helpful resources to assist you in navigating all things Extension Master Gardener. Let’s begin with defining a few common acronyms and frequently asked questions.

Extension Master Gardener Acronyms:

VC – Volunteer Central is the database that holds all Extension Master Gardener and Trainee personal information as well as tracking volunteer and educational hours completion. It is also where annual background checks are processed for both Extension Master Gardeners and Trainees.

VMS – Volunteer Management System is no longer in use, but the term may come up in conversations with peers. It was the database for tracking volunteer and educational hours completion which is now handled through VC. This was a large project managed at the state level for migrating the VMS data into VC in the spring/summer of 2021.

VSP – Volunteer Selection Process where all Extension Master Gardeners and Trainees must pass state and national background checks, reference checks, and interview, in addition to completing all required steps in the VC application.

FAQs:

Question: What is an Extension Master Gardener?

Answer: Extension Master Gardeners volunteer their time educating people in a variety of exciting horticulture-related projects based on their interests and are constantly learning!

An Extension Master Gardener can be anyone 18 and older who has successfully passed the volunteer selection process and maintains good standing, has successfully completed the required 14-week training course, completed the required 40-hours of horticulture-based service volunteering, and maintains additional certification requirements in accordance with the MSU Extension Master Gardener program rules.

Question: What is an Extension Master Gardener Trainee?

Answer:  Anyone 18 and older who has successfully passed the volunteer selection process and is either enrolled in the required 14-week training course or has completed it, but who has not yet completed the required 40-hours of horticulture-based service volunteering.

Question: What are the steps to becoming an Extension Master Gardener?

Answer:  Keep an eye on this site for upcoming classes, then Step 1. Register and submit payment for the training course through MSU Extension Events Management. Step 2. Access Volunteer Central (VC) to complete an application and the MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process (VSP). Note this needs to be done within 10 days of registering/paying for the course. After successfully registering and paying for the course, you will receive a link and detailed instructions for the VC/VSP step.

Question: Can I hire or have an Extension Master Gardener come to my residence to help me with my gardening?

Answer: No.  Extension Master Gardeners do not perform work-for-hire or volunteer work for individuals - their work is project-related and those projects go through a vetting process to be sure the volunteer work meets the requirements of the Extension Master Gardener program.

 Helpful hints before you begin the VC/VSP process:

  1. Have the phone numbers and emails of five references ready to input. Please verify the emails and do not guess.
  2. Read and click yes to the background check waiver and the code of conduct.
  3. Take your time and answer all the questions. Allow about 45 minutes. The VC/VSP system will not save your progress – this needs to be done in one sitting without interruptions.
  4. There are two training videos that must be completed (and yes, whether you plan on working with children or not): 1. Welcome to MSU Extension and 2. Working with Youth
  5. If any of these steps are incomplete, your application cannot be processed.

Question: Who can I contact for more information about becoming an Extension Master Gardener?

Answer:  Julie Ford, Kalamazoo County Extension secretary, Michigan Master Naturalist, and Extension Master Gardener Trainee fordjul2@msu.edu, 269-383-8830; Wrifton Graham, Kalamazoo County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator and Extension Master Gardener grahamw9@msu.edu, 269-383-8815.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

  • Visit Southwest MI Extension Master Gardeners on Facebook
  • Have a gardening question? Contact the MSU Extension Lawn and Garden Hotline at 888-678-3464 or submit your question to MSU Extension Ask Extension.
  • LIVE via Zoom, we offer EMG Virtual Office Hours. Meet and chat with Wrifton or Chris every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. Open to all EMGs and EMG trainees. Use this link: https://msu.zoom.us/j/91035375036. The meeting ID is 910 3537 5036 and password 750625.

  • MSU Extension Master Gardener Recertified Tip Sheet

    Published on June 10, 2021
    The EMG tip sheet for recertified EMGs contains basic information to guide EMGs through the policies for volunteer hours and where to stay informed of new and current information.

  • MSU Extension Master Gardener First Year Tip Sheet

    Published on June 10, 2021
    The EMG tip sheet for first year EMGs contains basic information to guide both the public who may be interested in becoming an MSU Extension Master Gardener and as a reminder of basic information for EMGs who are in their first year of the program.