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Master Oyster Gardener Course

The Next Master Oyster Gardening Course Will be Held in 2025
VIMS is upgrading the course for 2025. Keep checking here for news about the VIMS/TOGA plans for MOG 2025. In the meantime you may sign up for the Oyster Gardening 101 course presented by TOGA several times per year. If you can't attend the next session planned, you may still sign up to be notified for future classess.
Read more below about the 2022 MOG and the purpose of the MOG program. 

Congratulations to the MOG Class of 2022


MOG update from Karen Hudson: We “graduated” 20 MOGs which included 16 brand new candidates, 2 MOGs from 2017 class and 2 from 2020. We will mail out name tags and certificates. One item of note is we had the first MOG from the eastern shore. Next full class is 2025.

Critter Sharing, 6-11-22.jpg
A group from MOG classes of 2020 and 2022 share critters from their oyster gardens, June 11, 2022. Thanks to Karen Hudson and Celia Cackowski for a great learning experience. Who said you can't teach old dogs new tricks.

Photo by Kent Eanes, MOG.


Hands-On Labs

See Inside
the Hatchery

Learn from
Knowledgeable Experts

Schedule: The content will be delivered in 1-hour modules held virtually via Zoom on Tue/Thur evenings at 6:00 pm beginning May 10 and continuing through June 9, 2022. There will be two, in-person activities scheduled on a Saturday (tentatively May 14 and June 11). Course schedules may be modified based on speaker availability.

Sessions will be recorded. However MOG participants are expected to have the availability to attend most, if not all, sessions as the discussions will be an important part of the course.

Cost: The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (a.k.a. the License Plate Fund) is covering the cost of course materials. Attendees are asked to pay a modest fee to cover food and beverages for in-person sessions only.

Purpose & History: To provide a steady stream of highly trained volunteers who can lead the
Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association’s (TOGA) outreach mission. The first Master Oyster
Gardener (MOG) course was held in 1998 and graduated nineteen enthusiastic MOGs. Eleven
further courses have been held in subsequent years each with roughly 15 to 20 students each for a total of 168.

What do MOG’s do? MOG’s lead TOGA’s outreach mission through their dedicated volunteer
service. There are a variety of opportunities to fit availability and interest. Opportunities include:
newsletter or website support, assisting neighboring oyster gardeners with questions, manning
TOGA booth at local events, float building, research projects, special committees and board

Instruction is covered by a variety of knowledgeable experts including VIMS faculty and staff,
State officials, and experienced TOGA MOG’s. It’s a mix of remote learning modules and hands-on
learning with lots of time for discussion.

Content consists of:

  • Oyster gardening fundamentals

  • Oyster biology and life history

  • Oyster diseases

  • Understanding the various “critters” that live in and around oyster gardens

  • The regulatory and human health issues surrounding oyster gardening.


Attendees will also get a start-to-finish look at the oyster cultivation process at the VIMS oyster hatchery.

Applicant Criteria

  • Possess/or apply for an oyster garden permit from VMRC

  • Agree to attend the course in its entirety

  • Have been growing oysters for a minimum of one year

  • Commit to helping TOGA respond to questions from gardeners

  • Be willing to assist with at least 3 TOGA events or activities

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