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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the UC GNE Program?

The University of California Garden Nutrition Extenders (UC GNE) program is a partnership between 4-H and the UC CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. The purpose of UC GNE is to support sustainable school gardens through highly trained community volunteers. UC GNEs attend a 30-hour training program focusing 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 comprehensive garden nutrition education programs with youth.

How long is the training? 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 sessions. Participants practice and present garden enhanced nutrition curricula including Learn, Grow, Eat & Go!, planting with the seasons, 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 school gardens.

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 nutrition education to students and/or educators. UC GNEs will 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 fulfill 9 continuing education hours per year.

What curriculum and program support materials will be provided?

The training will equip UC GNEs with the skills and materials necessary to deliver the TWIGS, 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 receive priority consideration for school garden support funds to support set-up and maintain school gardens (tools, soil, planter boxes, seeds, etc.). In addition, all UC GNEs will receive ongoing technical assistance and support from the UC GNE Project Coordinator and other UC GNEs.

Is there a fee for the UC GNE training program?

Yes, there is a program one time fee of $250. The fee covers the cost of the training, including: curriculum, training materials 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.

Is there an annual fee? 

Yes, there is a $20 fee for UC volunteer insurance after the first year. 

What are the benefits of becoming a UC Volunteer?

UC GNEs gain access to a broad network of UC resources and expertise including potential funding sources (where available), technical expertise from UC Master Gardeners, UC Master Food Preservers, 4-H Youth Development and UC CalFresh Nutrition Education. 

What if I cannot afford the cost for the training or background checks?

Please contact the UC GNE Project Coordinator for information on assistance with fees.  

What are the benefits of becoming a UC GNE?

Your work and service as a UC GNE volunteer 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 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.

More questions?

Contact Abbi Marrs, UC GNE Coordinator


805-803-1796 ext 103