Virginia Cooperative Extension relies on volunteers to accomplish its mission. We believe that active citizen involvement in our programs makes a difference in our success. The work of volunteers at the local level helps us leverage our paid faculty and staff resources into a much greater impact for the people of Virginia.

There are many ways you can get involved with us. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss available opportunities.

Master Gardener Program

VCE-Master Gardener volunteers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County provide our community with locally relevant programs that encourage environmental stewardship through horticulture; Our projects include answering gardening questions via our Horticulture Help Desk, educating the public using Demonstration Gardens, giving classes and workshops, youth leadership development through gardening, and other educational programs.  

Volunteer involvement is one of the most important and unique aspects of Virginia Cooperative Extension.  Over 130 VCE-Master Gardeners in Albemarle County participate in dozens of volunteer activities year-round, coming together in their desire to give something back to our neighborhoods, towns, and parks.  The thousands of hours that they devote to volunteer work annually allow them to share their passion for gardening with others, bringing the benefits of horticulture to the backyards and byways of our community.

To learn more about how to become certified as a VCE-Master Gardener, please contact the Albemarle VCE Office, at 434-872-4580.

Extension Leadership Council

The primary way for us to facilitate community participation in Extension education is through a representative group known as an Extension Leadership Council (ELC).  Members of the Albemarle ELC participate in the following ways:

  • Identify community problems, issues, and concerns which Extension can and should address, and prioritize according to need and available resources.
  • Assess current programs and activities to decide which ones should be continued, eliminated, or modified in order to more effectively address the needs of the community.
  • Monitor program efforts and make adjustments when needed.
  • Report program results, issues, and concerns to the appropriate group (i.e., area planning group, State Extension Council, funding sources, community members, etc.).
  • Be an advocate for Extension, our programs, and the results of our programs.

If you are interested in joining the Albemarle ELC, please contact us.

Rivanna Master Naturalists

The Rivanna Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is a dedicated group of volunteers working to preserve our natural heritage. Education, stewardship, and citizen science are the core efforts of these hard workers. The all volunteer group trains about 24 new members each year, and has put in over 46,000 volunteer hours since its beginning in 2006.

Some of the many activities are educating school groups and senior citizens, being 4-H volunteers, monitoring stream health through Stream Watch (Rivanna Conservation Alliance), reporting species data to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and other Virginia departments, building and maintaining trails, monitoring trails, river clean-ups, removing invasive species, informing the public at various community events, developing new habitat on public land, etc, etc.   

For more information, please go to our website at or email