Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association Master Oyster Gardener Course

Tidewater Oyster Gardener Association

Master Oyster Gardener Course

Master Oyster Gardener Course Postponed

VIMS and the TOGA Board regret to inform the membership that we have made the difficult decision to postpone the Master Oyster Gardener Class until next summer (2020) due to low registration. We simply can’t commit the resources without a full class. For those who have registered, we certainly value your interest and hope to offer the course next summer. In the meantime, please let Karen Hudson (khudson@vims.edu) or the TOGA Board know if there is anything we can do to help you with your oyster gardening!

Master Oyster Gardener Training Course 

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


Program History and Purpose

The first MOG course was held in 1998 and graduated nineteen enthusiastic Master Oyster Gardeners. Nine 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 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 to 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 so a selection process is used to determine the candidates. In order to qualify, the individual must:


·         Have a VMRC oyster garden permit.

·         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.



A fee of $130.00 for TOGA members or $145.00 for non-TOGA members (includes membership for 2019) 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.



Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)


Karen Hudson

Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Specialist

Marine Advisory Services / VASG Marine Extension Program





Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA)



Terry Lewis

President/ MOG Refresher Planning Committee



Vic Spain

President Emeritus


Congratulations to the MOG Class of 2017