Search for Excellence Award

Search for Excellence Award

Applications for the 2024 Search for Excellence award are closed.

Search for Excellence (SFE) is the recognition program of the Iowa Master Gardener program and mirrors the national Extension Master Gardener SFE award program. SFE has six categories:

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

Through the Search for Excellence recognition program, Master Gardeners demonstrate their outstanding contributions to their communities, providing significant learning and impact in the local community. All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place, with the focus on educating the general public. All SFE awards recognize outstanding group projects rather than individuals completing outstanding work. 

Search for Excellence Guidelines

Search for Excellence Application Form

ISU Extension and Outreach Photo Release Form

Search for Excellence Scoring Rubric

Sample Application


2024 Search For Excellence Winners:

Jasper County: The Inspiration Donation Garden

Linn County: Winter Gardening Fair

Scott County: Friendly House Project

Story County: Israel Hospice House Garden

Warren County: Growing Together Iowa Community Donation Garden

Press Release

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.