Master Oyster Gardeners Course

June 10 and 17, 2017

- Expand your knowledge of oyster gardening and become a valuable resource in the oyster gardening community!


2017 Course Date and Location

The course will be held at the Gloucester Point campus of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on two consecutive Saturday’s: June 10 and June 17, 2017. All interested TOGA members are encouraged to apply. The course is sponsored by the Virginia Sea Grant Marine Extension Program and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.


Program History and Purpose

The first MOG course was held in 1998 and graduated nineteen enthusiastic Master Oyster Gardeners. Eight further courses have been held in subsequent years each with roughly 15-20 students. The purpose of the Master Oyster Gardening course is to provide a steady stream of highly trained volunteers who can lead TOGA’s outreach mission.


What do MOG’s do?

Master Oyster Gardeners lead TOGA’s outreach mission through their dedicated volunteer service. There are many volunteer events to choose from and a variety of ways MOG’s can participate. Sample outreach opportunities can be found on the website under outreach schedule. Additional opportunities include newsletter or website support, float building, research projects, special committees and board membership.


Course Details

The MOG course takes place at VIMS, Gloucester Point on two consecutive Saturdays - June 10 and June 17, 2017. The course is taught by a variety of knowledgeable experts including VIMS faculty and staff, State officials, and experienced TOGA MOG’s. Both days begin no later than 9:00 am and run until 5:00 pm. The course is a mix of presentations and hands-on laboratories. The first Saturday will generally consist of: oyster biology and life history; oyster diseases; understanding the various “critters” that live in and around oyster gardens; and the regulatory and human health issues surrounding oyster gardening. The focus of the second Saturday is a complete look at oyster cultivation - from brood stock conditioning, spawning, larval rearing, nursery systems and finally the field grow-out. This takes place down at the VIMS oyster hatchery and at the field nursery. The day ends with a concentrated session on basic oyster gardening, and will allow for questions and answers on the process. The final event is the graduation ceremony for the new Master Oyster Gardeners.



Admission to the program is limited and a selection process is used to determine the candidates. In order to qualify, the individual must:

  • Agree to attend the course in its entirety

  • Have been growing oysters for a minimum of one year

  • Be willing to commit to helping TOGA respond to questions from gardeners. This could involve site visits or phone calls to help solve oyster gardening problems and provide advice.

  • Be willing to make his/her name and telephone number available to the public (via the TOGA website)

  • Be willing to assist with TOGA’s outreach at public events or other volunteer opportunities at a minimum of 50 hours

  • Have a VMRC oyster garden permit


A fee of $130.00 for TOGA members or $145.00 for non-TOGA members (includes membership for 2017) will be payable upon acceptance to the course. Course material, including a Master Oyster Gardener Handbook, break refreshments and lunches are covered by this fee.


How to Apply

If you are interested in being considered for participation in this program, please complete and sign the enclosed application form and mail to:

Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association

PO Box 2463

Gloucester, VA 23183


Early applications for TOGA members must be received no later than May 10, 2017. After that date, spaces will be made available to the general public. Application and course information will also be available on the TOGA website. An effort will be to made to choose applicants from as broad a geographical area as possible. Private oyster gardeners will be given preference over gardeners with a commercial interest. Some scholarships are available.



For questions and additional information, please contact Jackie Partin at 804-694-4407.