Registration open for Master Gardener Volunteer Training

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Contact: Sarah Dirks
Clay County Master Gardener Program Coordinator
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Registration Open for Local Master Gardener Training

SPENCER, Iowa – Celebrating its 40th year in Iowa, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program will be held from August to October for those interested in becoming Master Gardener volunteers in Dickinson, Clay and Emmet Counties. Deadline to register for the local sessions is July 16.
Master Gardener volunteers are passionate about volunteering and gardening. No previous garden knowledge is required. The program equips participants to grow in knowledge about gardening best practices. After the training, Master Gardeners volunteer in their community, making significant contributions through community beautification, produce donations to local food pantries and more.
“Master Gardeners provide volunteer service across Iowa,” said Katie Goodell, Master Gardener Program Coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach in Dickinson County. “They are excellent local community resources who build partnerships, curate community and donation gardens and provide educational opportunities.”
Local Dickinson/Emmet/Clay County training sessions will begin Aug. 6 and continue every Tuesday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. through Oct. 8. There will also be a hands-on Saturday workshop on the campus of Iowa State University Oct. 19, and a final celebration on Nov. 19.
Sessions will be taught using a “flipped classroom” approach. Lectures will be provided to watch online at home, freeing up class time for hands-on activities and tours. Trainees may visit orchards, wetlands, gardens, greenhouses and other relevant locations within the three-county area to gain real hands-on experience relevant to the week’s lecture topics.
After completing the course, Master Gardener trainees volunteer within the community, volunteering 40 hours. Once the 40 hours are completed – to maintain Master Gardener volunteer status – individuals must volunteer 20 hours per year and continue building their gardening knowledge by participating in 10 hours of continuing education.
“In 2018 alone, nearly 2,000 Master Gardeners were active across Iowa, compiling over 113,000 volunteer hours,” Goodell said. “Those volunteered hours are valued at $2.7 million which is significant for our local communities. That is why we are so excited to be rebuilding our local Master Gardener volunteer group.”
Those interested in becoming a Master Gardener can apply online at or contact their local ISU Extension and Outreach office. In Dickinson County, that number is 712-336-3488; Clay County, 712-262-2264; and Emmet County, 712-362-3434.
A training fee of $195 is due at the start of classes in August. Clay County is offering a $50 reimbursement to the first 3 participants, once course work is complete.  However, individuals not interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer can still complete the training via the ProHort program. The ProHort program allows individuals to gain the knowledge while earning a certificate of completion. Cost for the ProHort program is $550 and does not include any volunteer requirements.
More information can be accessed online at or by contacting your local ISU Extension and Outreach office.

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