Search for Excellence Award

Search for Excellence Award

Applications for the 2023 Search for Excellence award are closed. Congratulations to our winner, Dubuque County! 

The application period for 2024 is to be announced later this year. 

Search for Excellence (SFE) is the recognition program of the Iowa Master Gardener program. SFE has six categories:

  • Youth Programs
  • Demonstration Gardens
  • Innovative Projects
  • Workshops/Presentations
  • Special Needs Audience
  • Community Service Projects

Recommended Resource: Internal Evaluation Tools

Through the Search for Excellence recognition program, Master Gardeners can demonstrate their outstanding contributions to their communities, providing significant learning and impact in the local area. All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place, with the focus on educating the general public rather than individual Master Gardeners. All SFE awards recognize outstanding group projects and not individuals completing outstanding work. 

Search for Excellence Guidelines

Search for Excellence Application Form

Sample SFE Application

ISU Extension and Outreach Photo Release Form


2023 Search For Excellence Winner:

Dubuque County: Mowing to Monarchs

2022 Search for Excellence Winner:

Dickinson County: Camp Foster YMCA Learning & Donation Garden

2021 Search for Excellence Winner:

Woodbury County: Youth Garden Club

2020 Search for Excellence Winners: 

Linn County: Community Outreach Gardens

Marshall County: Youth Education Gardens

2019 Search for Excellence Winner:

Buchanan County: Prairie Pioneer Schoolhouse

2018 Search for Excellence Winners:

Pocahontas County: Garden Extravaganza

Webster County: Frontier Garden

2017 Search for Excellence Winner:

Linn County: Planting for Pollinators

2015 Search for Excellence Winners:

Buchanan County: Wapsipinicon Mill Prairie

Johnson County: Butterfly House at the County Fair

Johnson County: Downtown City Gardens

Marshall County: Youth Teaching Garden

Polk County: Discovery Garden Plant Signage


2013 and 2014 Winners Include: Cass County, Boone County, Warren County, Linn County (2), Mills County, and West Pottawattamie County.