FAQs: Master Gardener College

Upcoming College:

The 30th Annual Master Gardener College

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA

June 22 – 25, 2017


How do I get to Virginia Tech?

Directions to the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, VA from major interstates can be found on the Campus Directions page.  Estimated travel times from regional metropolitan areas to Blacksburg is also provided on this page.  All attendees who are staying in the dorms on campus must park in the designated parking lot.  For individuals not needing special accommodation such as handicap parking, the designated parking lot is Smithfield Road lot (see map image below, under “Interactive Virginia Tech Map.” Click on the image for a full-size view).  Convenient shuttles will be provided to and from the dorm(s) and main parking lot on check-in and check-out days. Attendees who choose to stay off campus will be given a parking pass to allow them to park in Faculty/Staff spaces nearer to Torgersen Hall for their convenience. There are no parking restrictions over the weekend except for parking spaces and lots which are marked F/S 24/7 or as Service. Do not park in one of these spaces, or you will be ticketed. Please take a look at this helpful document provided for visitors from the Virginia Tech Parking and Transportation Office page.  Note that if you park in a metered spot you must still pay the meter, even with a visitor parking permit.

Where Do I Stay?

You have the choice of staying on campus in the residence halls (New Hall West or Ambler Johnston West have historically been used for MG College) or staying in a hotel off-campus. The residence halls are conveniently located near a dining hall and the classrooms, and we will also provide shuttles for your convenience. The cost for on-campus accommodations includes meals at the all-you-can-eat dining hall. There is no shuttle service for any off-campus accommodations.

Where Do I Eat?

For anyone staying on campus, food is already included in the cost of the room. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at D2, an all-you-can-eat dining hall located near the residence hall. For those staying off-campus, a meal card which includes all these meals can be purchased on the day you check-in. You can also buy meals at the door. Daily menus for D2 are provided online. A whole week of menus is provided online; select the date in which you are interested from the menu at left.

We also provide breaks with food and drinks (Don’t worry, there is plenty of coffee!) between sessions, as well as a night of wine tasting with hors d’oeuvres during the conference. You won’t go hungry!

What Should I Bring?

  • Toiletries
  • Hair Dryer (If needed)
  • Any medications you may need
  • Additional Blankets (The dorms will provide sheets, and blankets are available upon request, but if you tend to be cold you should probably bring a blanket.)
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Comfortable clothes (It may be hot or warm, it may be a little chilly – Blacksburg has a tendency to be unpredictable. The classrooms themselves are often quite cool, so you may want to bring a sweater just in case. Pretty much everything is casual wear.)
  • Alarm Clock (If needed)
  • Rainwear/Umbrella (it may rain)

Is There a Lot of Walking Involved?

Virginia Tech has a primarily pedestrian campus. There is no road for vehicles next to the dorm. The walk from the dorm or dining hall to the meeting rooms is about ¾ to 1 mile. There will be a shuttle van provided at specific times for your convenience, including during check-in to make sure you can take your luggage to the dorms. Also, pay attention carefully to which classes or tours you sign up for, since some of them do require a fair amount of walking. If you have a disability and need extra help getting around, please call us before you arrive and we will make transportation arrangements.

Interactive Virginia Tech Map – use this convenient tool to find the location of on-campus accommodations (select New Hall West), the dining hall (D2) and the main academic building (Torgersen Hall), and Hahn Horticultural Gardens.  Note that a shuttle service runs between the residential hall, dining hall and academic buildings for your convenience during scheduled MG College events.

The copy of the interactive map below has been marked with parking, dining and residence halls, and the main conference building. Click on the image for a full size view.

VT Campus Map with locations

 How Many Volunteer Service Hours Will I Receive?

Actually quite a lot! For example, general and concurrent sessions, tours, and labs qualify as continuing education hours. The awards ceremony and annual meeting both qualify as volunteer service hours. Social hours and meal times do not qualify as Master Gardener hours.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Attending MGC?

First and foremost, MGC is full of opportunities to learn about the latest horticultural research and applications. Listen to exceptional speakers and enjoy the enlarged Virginia Tech display gardens. The hidden benefits are some of the greatest. Here you will get to meet other Master Gardeners from around the state. You can compare programs and share knowledge. Spend some time sharing your methods and providing recommendations to other unit Master Gardeners. When you head back home, share some of your experience with others as this is how you can look beyond your locality and improve your program.

Where Do I Park My Car?

On Wednesday (early arrival), Thursday, and Friday park only in the area designated by the “hang tag” which you will receive with your registration packet. If you do not park in the specific location specified by your hang tag, you WILL get ticketed anywhere from $30-$60. On Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday you can park almost anywhere on campus unless it has a specific designation such as handicap parking, service vehicle, loading dock, is a metered spot, or is listed as a 24/7 Faculty/Staff lot. Do not park in the Owens or D2 parking lots at any time, as these are 24/7 Faculty/Staff lots. For more information on the location of parking lots, please view the Virginia Tech Campus Parking Map.

What is the Cost of Registration?


2017 costs to be released soon!

Are There Any Additional Costs?

Some of the choices you make will incur a nominal extra cost. For example, some tours have an additional charge to cover transportation and some lab classes need to cover cost of materials.

The Virginia Master Gardener Association puts on a silent auction to support the State Master Gardener Coordinator Endowment Fund. In the auction you will find a wide array of high quality items, including new and innovative gardening tools and equipment; healthy, beautiful plants; garden art, home decor and much more.  Bidding can be quite competitive  – you won’t want to miss this event!

When Can I Register and How?

The registration process can be accomplished online, on the phone, or through the post office. If you would like to stay on-campus during MG college, you must fill out an additional registration form; housing and meals are not included in MG college registration. If you are specific about which classes you take, register as early as possible to ensure your top choices. Some classes are offered twice, and some classes occupy an entire afternoon. Carefully review the class listings before making selections. Check the information page for a copy of the event program to note any changes to the program or possible cancellations. The Master Gardener College edition of the InSeason newsletter will have an early version of the schedule.

Download the Visit VT app

Visit VT app google play store screen shotWould you like additional help getting around?  Download the free Visit VT app from the iTunes store or Google Play. Take a virtual tour of campus. Find directions to and around campus.  Use the location aware navigation feature to find your way around.  Find things to do, see, and experience. Browse through hotel and restaurant listings. It’s everything you need to know and more about visiting Virginia Tech.





Special Thanks to George Graine, Fran Shelton, and Paul Campbell for earlier drafts of this information.