ISU Extension is taking applications for its Master Gardener program. (ISU photo)

There’s still a lot of weeks of winter to get through — but Iowa State University Extension is already looking ahead with Master Gardner training starting soon.

Program coordinator Alicia Herzog says the training will be offered in 27 counties beginning in February. “The Master Gardener training program is actually a volunteer training program, and not a lot of people realize that. So master gardeners, our extension volunteers, that work in the different counties across the state,” she explains. “And we do cover about 75% of the state with the Master Gardener program right now.”

Herzog says most of the training is set up so you won’t have to venture out into the winter weather. “You do all the materials online. So we have lecture videos on there from our experts at Iowa State, we have supplemental readings, and different publications that they’ve created. And then we also have quizzes to help people with retaining the information that they’re learning, and a textbook that goes along with it. So it is pretty robust,” according to Herzog.

There will be four in-person sessions at your county office. “And those can be field trips, they can be hands-on classes about how to propagate plants, they kind of come up with all sorts of different creative ways that they implement those in-person offerings,” she says. The application window for the 2023 Winter Master Gardener training opens January 9th. Once you go through the training, you can use that horticulture and gardening knowledge to help educate people in your communities, and coordinate projects that promote healthy communities.

“So they might work in a donation garden, they might work with school, children, youth, and teach them about gardening, or they might teach adult education classes at a library once a month and help people learn about how to prune their bushes or keep their house plants happy. So they do a lot of different things in their communities,” Herzog says.

Herzog says you don’t have to have any gardening background to get started. “You just have to be interested in gardening or horticulture,” she says, “You know, you can be interested in turf, you can be interested in trees, it doesn’t have to be what we think of traditionally, as gardening, you don’t have to just be interested in flowers, or just be interested in vegetables.” And she says you need the desire to learn and grow because it is a continuing education program for adults. And you have to be interested in volunteering and helping your community.

Iowa State has offered Master Gardener training for more than 40 years. You can find out more at the ISU Extension website.
The counties involved in the training are: Black Hawk, Calhoun, Cerro Gordo, Clay, Clinton, Davis, Dickinson, Emmet, Floyd, Franklin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Keokuk, Kossuth, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Mitchell, Monona, Monroe, Palo Alto, Poweshiek, Shelby, Tama, Wapello, Warren, Woodbury, Worth and Wright.

Radio Iowa