AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program will hold its core training sessions this fall for individuals interested in becoming Master Gardener volunteers.
The Master Gardener program is looking for people who are passionate about volunteering and gardening. No previous garden knowledge is required. The program equips participants to grow in knowledge about gardening best practices. After the training, Master Gardeners volunteer in their community, making significant contributions such as giving produce to food pantries and demonstrating garden best practices at Iowa’s county fairgrounds.
“Master Gardeners provide volunteer service across Iowa,” said Susan DeBlieck, ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener assistant coordinator. “They are excellent community resources who provide support at school gardens, community gardens and farmers markets.”
New for 2018 is an expansion of the flipped classroom model that was offered at six locations last year. Lectures that were previously given during classroom sessions are now available to be watched at home, freeing up class time for hands-on activities and tours of local gardens.
“From our experience offering a flipped classroom last year, trainees love being able to watch the course lectures at their own pace,” said Margaret Murphy, horticulture educator and regional food coordinator for ISU Extension and Outreach. “Additionally, receiving hands-on experiences during class increased the level of learning and gave trainees an opportunity to work together and share ideas and experiences.”
Training sessions will also begin as early as in mid-August, about four weeks earlier than past start dates, in order to take advantage of daylight for hands-on activities and tours. Training sessions will not be limited to Tuesday evenings but can be held on other days of the week.
The Class on Campus training session will be held Nov. 3, bringing all Master Gardener trainees together for hands-on workshops with ISU Extension and Outreach instructors.
Training sessions will be held throughout the state, contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office for training locations.
Those interested in the course can apply at https://mastergardenerhours.hort.iastate.edu/application-form.php. Training fees are $195.
After completing the course, Master Gardener trainees work as volunteers within the community, volunteering 20 hours per year and building their gardening know-how by participating in ten hours of continuing education.
Individuals not interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer can still receive training. The ProHort program allows individuals to gain knowledge while earning a certificate of completion. Cost for the ProHort program is $550 and does not include any volunteer requirements.
Nearly 2,000 Master Gardeners were active across Iowa in 2017, compiling over 115,000 volunteer hours. Master Gardeners volunteered nearly 60 hours each, significantly more than the 20 hours required. Those volunteer hours are valued at $2.7 million.