Master Gardener Participation Increased in 2022

Annual report shows more Iowans were trained, as interest in program remains high

February 21, 2023, 10:59 am | Alicia Herzog

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener Program saw a year of significant growth in 2022. More than 440 people were trained, an increase of 41%, with more than 100,000 volunteer hours logged by 1,754 volunteers.

Master Gardeners interacted with more than 200,000 people from the public and assisted the Growing Together Iowa program in donating nearly 115,000 pounds of produce, according to the Master Gardener Annual Report released this winter.

“The past year saw renewed interest in the work of Master Gardeners and the volunteers who make the program a success,” said Alicia Herzog, Master Gardener Program coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach. “We have not fully recovered to pre-pandemic participation, but our trainees and volunteers continue to see the benefit of providing this program.”

Trainings were doubled in 2022, to offer a summer and fall session. For 2023, trainings are being offered in winter (classes full) and fall, with sessions beginning Sept. 5, and a fall application window of July 17-Aug. 18.

While gardening is a big part of what Master Gardeners do, they also help educate communities about a variety of horticulture and gardening topics.

“Master Gardeners are educational stewards for their communities,” said Herzog. “They put on seminars, consult with community groups and help educate and inform the public about access to healthy food. They do so much more beyond tending a garden.”

Herzog said 82 Iowa counties participated in the Master Gardener program in 2022. The top counties for volunteer hours per volunteer were Harrison, Jackson, Woodbury, Boone and Linn. The top counties for total volunteer hours were Linn, Polk, Johnson, Black Hawk and Jackson.

The 2022 Search for Excellence Award, which recognizes Master Gardeners who demonstrate outstanding contributions to their communities, went to Dickinson County. The county’s project consisted of helping youth learn how to grow food through the YMCA Learning and Donation Garden project. More than 1,000 youth participated, learning the aspects of basic gardening and good stewardship.

Applications for the 2023 Search for Excellence award are due by 5 p.m. March 17. Complete details are available online.

Additional highlights from the annual report include:

  • More than $2.24 million in economic service in 2022.
  • Volunteers completed 16% more continuing education hours than the previous year.
  • An increase in volunteer hours and three additional counties with active volunteers.

Review the full report online.

Shareable photo: Jasper County Master Gardeners work alongside community members to install new pollinator gardens outside the ISU Extension and Outreach Jasper County office at a 2022 community installation event.

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