Become a Master Gardener

We are looking for volunteers who:

  • Are interested in gardening and horticulture
  • Are curious and love to learn
  • Can make a commitment to the program – 40 volunteer hours and 40 education hours in the first year. Then 20 volunteer hours and 10 education hours after the Master Gardener training.

We welcome participants with all levels of gardening experience. The minimum age for participation is 16 years old. 

What you can expect from Master Gardener Training:

  • 10 weeks of hybrid instruction, including
    • video lectures
    • reading assignments
    • quizzes
    • discussion forums
    • in-person classes hosted at the local Extension and Outreach office
  • A broad overview of 17 horticulture topics that will help students establish a diverse base of horticulture knowledge
  • Links to additional resources that allow students to dive deeper into topics of specific interest
  • Opportunities to meet new people, network, and share ideas and information with fellow students and active Master Gardeners 
  • Learn more about volunteer opportunities in your community and connect with ISU Extension and Outreach staff at your local office, who will help you get connected with volunteer opportunities matched to your skills and interests

Who are Master Gardener Volunteers?

They are passionate about serving their communities and sharing gardening best practices. Master Gardener volunteers are individuals who have completed the Master Gardener training and share their time and expertise as volunteers in community gardens, city beautification projects, and farmers markets, to name a few projects. 

If you are interested in the Master Gardener Training for professional development or do not intend to volunteer, you may apply for the course as a ProHort participant. 

Map of Iowa color coded by county

Important Dates:

  • All registration dates have passed for 2023

  • 2024 training dates will be posted here later this year

Steps to Become a Master Gardener Volunteer

  1. Declare your intent to become a Master Gardener to your County Extension and Outreach office
    Questions about your county's training program? Find your county contact here!
  2. Apply online to be a part of the Master Gardener Volunteer Training
  3. Be selected to participate
    • Submit and pass the background check. Background check not required for ProHort.
    • Pay the class fee ($150 for MG trainees; $550 for ProHort); the fee includes the training book (MG Resource Guide). 
      • Some scholarships are available for those with financial need. If you have questions about the cost, please contact your county coordinator. 
  4. Complete the ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener training
    • Complete online course materials over a 10-week period
    • Participate in 4 in-person sessions through your county office
    • Take pre- and post-assessment to gauge knowledge change
    • Topics include: Vegetables, insects, houseplants, flowers, fruits, turfgrass, landscape design, native plants, plant propagation, wildlife, integrated pest management, and common plant problems
    • Receive the MG Intern certificate (or ProHort certificate) upon completion of training
  5. Volunteer in your community
    • Complete 40 volunteer hours in your training county by the end of the next calendar year 
    • Not interested in volunteering? Register for the core course as a Pro-Hort trainee ($550 fee) and receive a certificate upon completion of the training
  6. Stay involved
    • Master Gardener volunteers remain active members by completing 10 hours of continuing education and contributing 20 hours of volunteer service
    • Report your volunteer and continuing education hours online by December 31st of each year



Financial assistance may be available to cover a portion of the training fee if the full training fee will cause financial hardship. Scholarships are available for volunteers (Master Gardener trainees) only. Scholarships are not available to those choosing the ProHort option. 

Our mission is to build a strong Iowa by serving all Iowans. Scholarship funding priority will favor Iowans new to the program and who bring a broad range of perspectives that will help connect with Iowans from all backgrounds. All applications are confidential and reviewed by Extension Staff. This information will not be released to any other entity, agency, or organization. You may apply for scholarship assistance on our training application form.