AMES, Iowa — Celebrating its 40th year in Iowa, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program will hold its core training sessions this fall for individuals interested in becoming Master Gardener volunteers.
The Master Gardener program is looking for people who are passionate about volunteering and gardening. No previous garden knowledge is required. The program equips participants to grow in knowledge about gardening best practices. After the training, Master Gardeners volunteer in their community, making significant contributions such as giving vegetables to food pantries and maintaining demonstration gardens at Iowa’s county fairgrounds.
“Master Gardeners provide volunteer service across Iowa,” said Susan DeBlieck, ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener coordinator. “They are excellent community resources who create partnerships in their community to enhance school gardens, provide educational opportunities and host plant sales.”
Training sessions will begin as early as mid-August in order to take advantage of daylight for hands-on activities and tours.
The expanded flipped classroom model that was implemented in 2018 will continue this year. Lectures that were previously given during classroom sessions are now available to be watched at home, freeing up class time for hands-on activities and tours of local gardens. In 2018, Master Gardener trainees visited nearby orchards, wetlands, vegetable gardens and many other locations to learn hands-on skills.
The Class on Campus training session will be held on Oct. 19, bringing all Master Gardener trainees together for hands-on workshops with ISU Extension and Outreach instructors.
Training sessions will be held throughout the state; contact your local ISU Extension and Outreach county office for training location and start date.
Those interested in the course can apply at https://mastergardenerhours.hort.iastate.edu/application-form.php. Training fees of $195 are due in the fall.
After completing the course, Master Gardener trainees volunteer within the community, volunteering 40 hours. To maintain Master Gardener volunteer status, they volunteer 20 hours per year and build their gardening know-how by participating in 10 hours of continuing education.
Individuals not interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer can still receive training. The ProHort program allows individuals to gain knowledge while earning a certificate of completion. Cost for the ProHort program is $550 and does not include any volunteer requirements.
Nearly 2,000 Master Gardeners were active across Iowa in 2018, compiling over 113,000 volunteer hours. Master Gardeners volunteered nearly 60 hours each, significantly more than the 20 hours required. Those volunteer hours are valued at $2.7 million.
— Susan DeBlieck, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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