Become a Master Gardener

Who are Master Gardeners?

Master Gardeners come from a variety of backgrounds. They are passionate about serving their communities and sharing gardening best practices. Master Gardeners are individuals who have taken the Master Gardener training and share their time and expertise as volunteers in community gardens, city beautification projects, and farmers markets to name a few. It is the acquisition of knowledge, the skill in gardening, and giving back to the community that distinguishes a Master Gardener from other gardeners.

Master Gardener trainees at the Class on Campus

Important Dates

September 1, 2016 - Apply online for the core training
September 9, 2016 - After this date, a late registration fee will be applied to your application

Steps to Become a Master Gardener

  1. Apply online by September 1, 2016 to attend the training
  2. Be selected by your local Extension office for the Master Gardener core training
  3. Submit and pass the background check
    • Receive notification that the background check has cleared, register for the core course, and pay class fee ($195 at most locations); training manuals are included in the fee.
  4. Complete the Extension Master Gardener core training
    • 40 hours of horticulture education offered in the fall: September through November
    • Complete pre- and post-survey to assess how much knowledge has been acquired
    • Courses are taught by Iowa State University faculty, local horticulture experts & Extension educators
    • Topics include: Houseplants, flowers, turf grass, vegetables, landscape design, woody landscape plants, plant propagation, fruits, soils, wildlife management, integrated pest management, plant pathology and entomology.
    • Core training is offered in locations throughout the state in the fall with a combination of webinars and face-to-face sessions. The core training also includes a full Saturday of hands-on workshops at Iowa State University.
  5. Volunteer in your community
    • Complete the 40 hour internship by December 31, 2017 as approved by the county coordinator. Volunteer on projects and at events to deliver horticulture education in the community.
    • Not interested in volunteering? Register for the core course as a Pro-Hort trainee ($550 fee) and receive a certificate upon completion of the course.
  6. Stay involved
    • Master Gardeners can remain active members in following years by attending ten or more hours of continuing education and contributing 20 hours or more of volunteer community service.
    • Report your volunteer and continuing education hours online by December 31st of each year.