AMES, Iowa – Denny Schrock sent out his first electronic newsletter as the Iowa Master Gardener coordinator, and within 10 minutes had a reply from a reader that confirmed he was on track with the program’s educational goal.
“The Master Gardener program was established to educate people at the local level to provide horticultural services as a supplement to the work extension horticulture specialists provide,” Schrock said. “A reader identified the mystery plant shown in the newsletter, but admitted to having to look up the scientific plant name – this person learned something new today.”
In his position at Iowa State, Schrock provides statewide leadership and training opportunities for volunteers as the Master Gardener coordinator in addition to teaching students on campus and serving as co-director for the Homegrown Lifestyle program.
Schrock joined the university in August and comes from Meredith Corporation, where he was a garden group editor for the past 10 years. He has edited 40 garden books under the Better Homes and Gardens, Scotts, Miracle-Gro and Ortho brands. He also was a digital editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and provided garden content for the bhg.com/gardening website.
Prior to working for Meredith, Schrock was state Master Gardener coordinator and home horticulture extension specialist for the University of Illinois and University of Missouri. Earlier in his career he worked with Master Gardeners as a field horticulture specialist in Minnesota and Colorado. “I have a good understanding of county extension staff needs and demands, as well as familiarity with the state director position,” he said. “I look forward to offering training opportunities that keep our volunteers motivated and relevant volunteer experiences that will keep them on staff.”
Schrock is preparing for the October campus visit of the more than 200 trainees in his first Iowa Master Gardener training course, and considering potential advanced trainings for Master Gardeners. “Most Master Gardeners like to dig deeper into a particular topic area after their initial training,” he said. “I want to assess our current offerings, determine the potential of partnership opportunities around the state, and explore how we can organize complementary advanced curriculum.”
He is an avid gardener and self-described plant nerd, but admits that his strong suit is native perennials and continues to conduct research in plant breeding of natives for landscape adaptability. He is looking forward to getting better acquainted with Iowa gardeners and strengthening their ties to the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State.