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The mission of the Iowa State University Extension & Outreach Master Gardener Program is to provide current, research-based, home horticulture information and education to the citizens of Iowa through programs and projects. Through their participation in educational activities, Master Gardeners also increase their own personal knowledge in horticulture. Master Gardeners extend Iowa State University Extension & Outreach’s consumer horticulture education programs through volunteer activity. Click here to view our logic model to learn more.
Since 1979 more than 10,000 Iowans have received Master Gardener training from Iowa State University Extension. The Extension Master Gardeners is an internationally recognized volunteer program. The program exists in all fifty states, and in Iowa is coordinated by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach with support from the Department of Horticulture.
The first Master Gardener Program was initiated in King County, Washington in 1972. In response to overwhelming requests for horticulture information, the extension agent came up with the idea of trading specialized training in horticulture for a commitment to spend a specified number of hours doing volunteer outreach work for extension. The Iowa Master Gardener program was first piloted in Scott County in 1979. Today, there are Master Gardeners in more than 90 of the state’s counties, and more than 10,000 Iowans have been trained in the Master Gardener program. Each year Iowa Master Gardeners provide more than 90,000 hours of volunteer service back to their communities.
View Master Gardener service hour totals county by county: