CASS COUNTY - Celebrating its 40th year in Iowa, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program will hold its core training sessions this fall for local individuals interested in becoming Master Gardener volunteers.
The Master Gardener program in Cass County 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 vegetables to food pantries and maintaining demonstration gardens at Iowa’s county fairgrounds.
“Master Gardeners provide volunteer service across Iowa,” said Susan DeBlieck, ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener coordinator. “They are excellent community resources who create partnerships in their community to enhance school gardens, provide educational opportunities, and host plant sales.”
The Cass County Extension office will hold training sessions starting on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at the Extension Office and other locations around Cass County to allow for hands-on learning. Classes will be held each Tuesday evening in September and October from 6-8 p.m., with an additional extended class scheduled for Saturday morning September 28. The Class on Campus training session will be held in Ames on October 19, bringing all Master Gardener trainees across the state together for hands-on workshops with ISU Extension and Outreach instructors.
The expanded flipped classroom model that was implemented in 2018 will continue this 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. This is the first time this format has been offered for training in Cass County.
Those interested in the course can apply online at https://mastergardenerhours.hort.iastate.edu/application-form.php. A link to the application form is also available on the Cass County Extension Website at www.extension.iastate.edu/cass or you can call the Cass County Extension Office at 712-243-1132 for assistance with registration. Training fees of $195 are due in the fall once participants are accepted into the class. Because Master Gardener volunteers work with many community partners, applicants will also be required to successfully pass a background screen before being accepted into the program.
After completing the course, Master Gardener trainees volunteer within the community, volunteering 40 hours. To maintain Master Gardener volunteer status, they volunteer 20 hours per year and build their gardening know-how by participating in ten hours of continuing education. Cass County has an active Master Gardener group that participates in many projects throughout the year, so opportunities to learn and volunteer are plentiful!
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.
By becoming a Master Gardener, trainees will join the nearly 2,000 Master Gardeners who were active across Iowa in 2018, compiling over 113,000 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 collectively.
For more information about the Master Gardener training, or Master Gardener activities in Cass county, call the Cass County Extension Office at 712-243-1132 or email Cass County Extension Director and Master Gardener Coordinator Kate Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org.