AMES, Iowa -- Iowa gardeners have new ways to connect with other gardeners, educational resources and training, and to Jennifer Bousselot as a result of recent Iowa Master Gardener developments. Bousselot became the Iowa Master Gardener coordinator in April and spent her first month addressing two major needs of current Iowa Master Gardeners.
“There are fantastic Master Gardener programs around the state, but individuals say they often feel isolated from others in the state and even within their community,” said Bousselot. “Not only do they want regular channels of communication with other Master Gardeners, but they are asking for more information and trainings on horticulture topics.”
In response to better communications, Bousselot published her first issue of Master Gardener News and Views, an electronic newsletter, in May. One major goal of the Master Gardeners newsletter is to provide information about programs across the state. The first issue also introduced readers to additional information sources, the Iowa Master Gardener Facebook page and the official ISU Extension Master Gardener website http://www.mastergardener.iastate.edu/index.html. The website instructs visitors on becoming a fan of Iowa Master Gardeners on Facebook, and links to the newsletter in the topics list, under News.
“I love working with Master Gardeners,” said Bousselot. “Their enthusiasm and inspiration is almost limitless. Where else can you find a group so enthusiastic about a specific subject and interested in helping the greater good of their community? I think we are off to a great start with improved communications between Iowa volunteers and coordinators, and offering ways for them to share ideas and event information.”
Bousselot, a DeWitt native, returns to her home state after completing her doctorate in horticulture at Colorado State University where she researched green roofs. Bousselot earned a bachelor's degree in plant health and protection and master's degree in sustainable agriculture from ISU. “As a Cyclone alum I'm happy to be returning to Iowa and delighted to be working with Master Gardeners again, as I have missed the unique blend of gardening passion and dedication to improving community that they engender.”
Coordinating Iowa Master Gardeners builds on her experience as coordinator of a large Master Gardener group in the Denver area. At Iowa State she serves as a lecturer for the ISU Department of Horticulture in addition to Iowa Master Gardener coordinator.
Bousselot says plans are in place to support Master Gardener trainings this fall in 32 Iowa locations. Since 1979, the Iowa Master Gardener program has trained more than 9,000 people. The fall training has the potential to add another 500 to that number. After receiving 40 hours of training, participants must complete a one-year Master Gardener internship consisting of 40 hours of volunteer service. Additional volunteer hours and ongoing training are required in subsequent years to maintain the Master Gardener status.
“Iowa Master Gardeners are asking for more training opportunities and information on additional topics,” said Bousselot. “To address those requests, we are offering a series of Web-based trainings this summer. One evening session is planned for each month during the three summer months.”
The Gardening Green 2010 summer webinar series will be hosted by participating county offices with sessions held on the fourth Tuesday of each month – June 22, July 27 and Aug. 24. The June topic, Growing Green Roofs in Iowa, will be presented by Bousselot. Kathleen Delate, ISU Extension organic ag specialist, will cover Organic Gardening for Homeowners in July, and Ann Marie VanDerZanden, ISU Extension landscape horticulture specialist, will present Rain Gardens in Iowa in August. The sessions are open to all interested gardeners; participants are not required to have completed Master Gardener training to attend, however the sessions will fulfill Master Gardener continuing education requirements.
“I will share one of my greatest passions at the June training,” Bousselot said of the green roof session. “There is so much potential in Iowa to manage storm water with green roofs and it is exciting to educate more people about the fundamentals and possibilities.”
With a Green Roofs 101 curriculum on her desk and an educational background that covers a gamut of horticulture topics, Bousselot is excited about taking on the responsibilities of coordinating one of ISU Extension’s most visible programs. Those who derive visual and nutritious satisfaction from the labors of local gardeners are sure to benefit as the number of Iowa gardeners with expanded knowledge and willingness to volunteer services back to their communities increases through Iowa Master Gardener participation.