Sioux County Master Gardener

Welcome to the Sioux County Extension Master Gardener

Everything you need to know is only a click away, so have fun and look around!

Contact Margaret Murphy, Horticulture Educator for Sioux County mmurphy@iastate.edu or 712-472-2576

The Iowa Extension Master Gardener Program is a large volunteer organization coordinated by Iowa State University Extension. Master Gardeners assist with horticulture-related programs and projects sponsored by ISU Extension.

The first Master Gardener Program was initiated in Washington State 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. In Iowa, the program started in 1977 in Scott County (Davenport). To date, over 4,000 people, located in 97 of Iowa's 99 counties, have been trained as Master Gardeners.

There are Master Gardener Programs in 45 states and Canada. The National Master Gardener Organization sponsors a conference every other year. The next "International Master Gardener Conference" will be held in San Antonio, Texas in 1999.

What is a Master Gardener?

If you were planning on hunting through your raspberry patch to find the rare species known as Masterious gardenerensis don't bother because you won't locate one there. No, Master Gardeners are individuals who have an interest in horticulture, have taken Master Gardener training offered by the extension service and share their time and expertise with gardeners. It is the acquisition of knowledge, the skill in gardening, and giving back to the community that distinguishes a Master Gardener from other gardeners.

The purpose of the Iowa Master Gardener Program is to provide unbiased, research-based horticultural information to the citizens of Iowa through the volunteer effects of Master Gardeners. Through their participation in educational activities, Master Gardeners also increase their own personal knowledge in horticulture. Master Gardeners are residents of a community who take an active interest in horticulture. They receive training in horticulture through the ISU Extension Service. In return for their training, Master Gardeners volunteer in extension horticulture programs and projects which enhance the community.

The first Master Gardener Program was initiated in Washington State 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 piloted in Scott County in 1977. To date, almost four thousand Iowans have been trained in the program.

Master Gardeners provide many services to the ISU Extension Service and their communities. They use their knowledge, talents, and skills on various projects and activities, such as: answering horticultural questions and phone calls at their local county extension office, sponsoring lawn and garden shows, developing educational displays, and giving horticultural presentations. Master Gardeners also assist with youth gardening programs, help manage farmers' markets and community gardens, plant demonstration and city beautification gardens, assist at public gardens, conduct horticulture therapy programs at nursing homes, write newspaper columns, do radio programs, and assist with the coordination and management of the local Master Gardener program.

Besides the educational and community service aspect of the Master Gardener program, gardeners get to know others with similar interests. They share their gardening experiences and, occasionally, their plants. If you are interested in becoming an Iowa Master Gardener, contact the Sioux County Extension office.

Benefits of being an Iowa Master Gardener:

  • You increase your knowlege of gardening and horticulture
  • You are able to help others in your community
  • You meet many interesting people who all share a common love of plants and gardening
  • You keep current on the latest trends in horticulture through workshops, conferences, and newsletters.

Requirements-The requirements to become a Master Gardener include a $125.00 fee per individual to cover the cost of educational materials and a commitment to do 40 hours of extension service. Individuals take an intense training program that covers a wide range of horticulture areas: houseplants, garden flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs, fruits, soils, plant pathology and entomology.

The next local training will begin in January, 2009.  The first eight (8) sessions are scheduled via the ICN. There will be one Saturday class at Iowa State University in Ames, plus four (4) other sessions that will be held together at one location with in-house speakers. The last 4 sessions are usually held the weeks after the ICN sessions will cover houseplants, vegetable and flower gardens. There will be written work based on the material presented during the classes.

The requirements to become a Master Gardener include a registration fee (currently $125) to cover the cost of educational materials and a commitment to do 40 hours of extension service. Individuals receive instruction in a wide range of horticulture and related areas: houseplants, flowers, turfgrass, vegetables, woody landscape plants, plant propagation, botany, fruits, soils, wildlife management, pesticide safety/ integrated pest management, plant pathology and entomology. The training is offered in several county extension offices throughout the state in the fall and winter months. The training sessions last for three hours and are usually held twice a week. The instructors are state and local extension specialists as well as knowledgeable, local gardeners. After completion of the training program, individuals become Master Gardener Interns. They are promoted to the title of Master Gardener upon completion of their 40-hour service commitment in their community. Master Gardeners can remain active members in following years by attending 6 or more hours of in-service education and contributing 6 hours of community service.

For information about the local Master Gardner course contact - The Sioux County Extension Office, at 712-737-4230  or email the office at xsioux@iastate.edu , Cheryl Heronemus at hero@iastate.edu, or Anita Jeltema at ajelt@iastate.edu

For more information on the Iowa Extension Master Gardener Program, contact James Romer (State Master Gardener Coordinator). Phone number: (515) 294 - 2336 E-mail: jromer@iastate.edu or Cynthia Haynes, chaynes@iastate.edu

First time offered--Designed for Master Gardeners.

Take a five-week one credit course that covers 40 perennials hardy to USDA zone 4. Learn about plant classification, anatomy, design planning, selection of quality plants, soils and composition, propagation, garden maintenance, diseases, and insect pests. A course on 40 annuals follows. Take one or both courses from Iowa State University. The courses are delivered on the World Wide Web and also, via the Iowa Communications Network in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, and Des Moines.

On campus contact - Lynette Spicer, Continuing Education and Communication Services

3614 Administrative Services Building 1717, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

(515) 294-1327 Fax: (515) 294-7767

For the latest in other off-campus courses and noncredit conferences, visit http://www.lifelearner.iastate.edu

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