Dickinson County Receives Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award

Award recognizes volunteers for their efforts to educate through gardening

May 31, 2022, 10:09 am | Alicia Herzog

AMES, Iowa – Master Gardeners in Dickinson County know the value of getting kids in the garden and providing them with hands-on learning opportunities. Master Gardeners Tammy Carr, Laura Callahan, Theresa Golden and Penny Nordstrom lead the Camp Foster YMCA Learning and Donation Garden project that engages youth ages 6 through 17.

Gardening volunteers.Within the last year, 1,080 youth at Camp Foster have participated in this program under the supervision of Master Gardener volunteers. Master Gardeners provide instruction and opportunities for kids to “get their hands dirty” while learning about the development of plants; caring for the soil, water and air; growing their own food and composting garden scraps.

For their efforts, Master Gardener volunteers from Dickinson County have received the Search for Excellence Award from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“The Master Gardener volunteers with Dickinson County are very deserving of this award,” said Alicia Herzog, Master Gardener state coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Their efforts are making a big difference by helping educate youth about how to plant and grow healthy foods.”

Young gardeners learned valuable lessons about where their food comes from, and even tried new produce they may not have previously been exposed to. “I don’t think I like kale,” said one participant. “OK, I’ll taste it. Oh, this is good.”

Another gardener learned, “Dead plants can help other stuff to grow next year.”

The Camp Foster YMCA Learning and Donation Garden would not be possible without community partnerships. This Master Gardener project is a joint effort funded in part by the Growing Together Iowa Mini Grant program and donations from the Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis Club. Camp Foster provides land for the garden and camp staff help prepare the site for yearly programming. Because the Master Gardener project receives Growing Together Iowa funds, much of the produce grown in this garden is donated to local food pantry partners. Last year, 433 pounds of produce were donated.

The Search for Excellence Award recognizes Master Gardeners who demonstrate outstanding contributions to their communities while providing significant learning and impact in the local area. All applications must show that significant learning took place, with the focus on educating the general public.

For more information about this project, contact Sue Boettcher, human sciences program coordinator, at 712-336-3488 or boettche@iastate.edu.

Shareable photo: Master Gardener volunteers.The Search for Excellence Award recognizes outstanding Master Gardener projects that affect their communities. Master Gardeners in Dickinson County are proud of their project at Camp Foster where they engage youth in garden programming.

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