Master Gardener Fall Training

Training to become a Dubuque County Master Gardener

Want to join our dynamic community of Master Gardeners making a difference in the community through gardening?  Master Gardener Training is the way to start your journey in becoming a Certified Dubuque County Master Gardener.  Check out the information below on how to become involved and what it takes to maintain certification.

Master Gardener holding plant

Steps to become a Dubuque County Master Gardener

Sign up online - The signup period to be part of the fall Master Gardener Training is closed.  Signup for the program begins July 22, 2024.  If you would like an email notification of when training opens, email Ray Kruse at to express your interest.

The Program Coordinator will contact you back - After you sign up, Ray Kruse who is the Program Coordinator, will contact you back within two weeks to answer any questions you may have about the program and let you decide if you would like to proceed with the next step of training.

Pay the training fee and complete background check - If you feel that training to become a Master Gardener is right for you, you can go ahead and pay the $150 training fee and fill out the required background check.  Once this is complete you are officially on your way to becoming a Dubuque County Master Gardener.

Complete the Master Gardener Core Training -

  • Face to Face Meetings- 6 pm Tuesdays, from September 3 to November 5.  Meeting locations will vary around the Dubuque area based on what we are learning for the week's lesson and what our guest speaker has to teach us.  This could range from a local orchard, the arboretum, or the county park.  Meetings last between one and a half to two hours each. 
  • Online horticulture education offered via an online platform.  This is a collection of university based information from our state specialists and is designed for Iowa gardeners.  There is also a paper version of the online resources that is yours to take notes in.

Volunteer in your community - Complete 40 hours of garden related volunteer service by December 31, 2025.  This can include:

  • Helping with Master Gardener events that are annually held in the Master Gardener Community.
  • Helping with community gardens that provide public education or donate their produce such as: the Dubuque Arboretum, Dubuque Rescue Mission, and the Convivium Urban Farmstead.
  • Attending monthly Master Gardener meetings.
  • Time driving to and from events also count towards volunteer hours.
  • To register your hours, the reporting system can be accessed HERE. 

Receive your Master Gardener Certification - You will be awarded your Master Gardener Certification at our annual Recognition Banquet in January 2026.  A picture of our Newly certified Master Gardeners for 2024 can be seen below.

Maintain your Master Gardener Certification - 

  • 20 hours of community service- Rather than charging annual dues and fees, once you become a certified Dubuque County Master Gardener, we require that you complete 20 volunteer service hours on an annual basis.  Activities that qualify follow the same criteria as what it takes, mentioned above, to receive Master Gardener Certification.
  • 10 hours of continuing education- To keep the knowledge base of our group up to date on the latest gardening techniques, we require that our Master Gardeners complete 10 hours of continuing education on an annual basis.  Most Master Gardeners fulfill these hours by attending events put on by the Master Gardener community, the county extension office, and other gardening conferences.

Still Got Questions? - Ray Kruse is the Dubuque County Master Gardener Coordinator, you can email him at or by calling (563) 583-6496 if you still have questions about the program.


Important Dates for 2024 Master Gardener Trainees

July 22, 2024 - Master Gardener Training Application opens

August 19, 2024 - Master Gardener Training Application closes

August 23, 2024 - Payment and background check forms due to the Dubuque County Extension Office for program enrollment

September 3, 2024 - Master Gardener Training starts

November 5, 2023 - Master Gardener Training concludes

December 31, 2025 - Deadline to complete 40 volunteer service hours to receive certification.

January 2026 - Award of Master Gardener Certification at annual Recognition Banquet.

2023 Master Gardener Trainees

2023 Master Gardener Trainees

2024 New Master Gardeners

2023 Newly Certified Master Gardeners

Proposed 2024 in person training topics

These training sessions occur 6 pm Tuesdays, September 3 to November 5.  Sessions are around the Dubuque area and last between one and a half to two hours.  The topics below are proposed for 2024 but are subject to change.

  • Orientation for class
  • Trees
  • Lawns and Weeds
  • Perennials
  • Fruit
  • Soils and Compost
  • Vegetables
  • Native Plants
  • Plant Propagation
  • Plant Diseases and Insects

Looking for more information?

Go to the Dubuque County Master Gardener homepage

Visit the webpage for the statewide Iowa Master Gardener Program

Visit the Dubuque County Home Gardening webpage

This page was last updated by Ray Kruse on 1/19/2024.