San Luis Obispo County
University of California
San Luis Obispo County

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the UC GNE Program?

The University of California Garden Nutrition Extenders (UC GNE) program has been developed to fill a need in school garden education.  The 30-hour training program focuses on developing skills to conduct garden enhanced nutrition education including: planning school gardens, planting with the seasons, tasting food from the garden, and connecting California state standards with outdoor education.  Participants that complete the training will be able to lead youth through the Junior Master Gardener™ curriculum Learn, Grow, Eat, GO!. The UC GNEs are vital resources in our community, establishing the farm-to-school link through evidence-based curriculum and engaging youth with service learning projects in the garden.

How many hours is the training program?

The initial training program is approximately 30 hours.

Who can apply? If I don’t have any gardening experience can I still apply?

Individuals at least 18 years of age who are interested in volunteering in garden enhanced nutrition education should apply.  The UC GNE Program encourages a diverse population to apply, no garden experience necessary.

What will I learn in the UC GNE training program?

The training program includes hands-on, experiential learning engaging participants to study and present garden and nutrition curriculum: Learn, Grow, Eat & Go! and practical garden education as well as outdoor classroom management and food safety.  UC GNE trainees can expect a rigorous, comprehensive program to prepare them for work with educators and students in the school garden.

What are the goals of the UC GNE program?

After completion of the training program, UC GNE volunteers will develop a plan to work in local school gardens to provide a minimum of 36 hours of evidence-based garden enhanced education to students and/or educators. UC GNEs will become 4-H volunteers and lead in-school nutrition and garden leadership clubs. UC GNEs work with the UC Master Gardeners and UC Master Food Preservers for cross-consultation and technical assistance.

How do I become and remain a certified UC GNE?

Complete the 30 hour training program, deliver 36 hours of direct garden nutrition education and complete 9 continuing education units (CEU’s) to be approved by UCCE School Garden Sustainability Project Coordinator.

What curriculum and program support materials will be provided?

The training will equip UC GNEs with the skills and materials necessary to deliver the Learn, Grow, Eat & Go!- Jr. Master Gardener™ curriculum. Depending on funding availability, UC GNEs will also be provided garden literature and curriculum materials for participants (i.e. garden journals, parent letters, etc.). UC GNEs will have opportunities for school garden support funds to support set-up and maintenance of school gardens (tools, soil, planter boxes, seeds, etc.). In addition, all UC GNEs will receive ongoing technical assistance and support from the UC Cooperative Extension School Garden Sustainability Project Coordinator and other UC GNEs.

Is there a fee for the UC GNE training program?

Yes, there is a program fee that ranges from $150 for participants seeking to volunteer in low-income schools up to $350. The fee covers the cost of the training, including curriculum, materials, program support and supplies. Volunteers will also be required to complete a background check and TB test (approximately $40-$75). Scholarships are available. Please contact the UC GNE Coordinator for more information.

Will there be further opportunities for UC GNE training if I cannot attend the first training cohort?

Absolutely!  Annual training classes are planned for future UC GNE volunteers.

What are the benefits of becoming a UC Volunteer?

Becoming a UC volunteer broadens the scope of work beyond volunteering during the school day such as after-school garden clubs.  UC volunteers complete a background and fingerprint check (for a small fee) to conduct their work with youth. 

What if I cannot afford the cost for fingerprinting?

Please contact UCCE School Garden Sustainability Project Coordinator for information on assistance with fingerprinting fees.

What are the benefits of becoming a UC GNE?

Your work and service as a UC GNE are invaluable to the local community as you guide both youth and educators through garden enhanced nutrition education. By becoming a UC GNE you will enhance your professional capacity to educate, grow nutritious and sustainable food, advocate for local food systems and network with other UC Cooperative Extension programs, professionals, volunteers and resources.

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