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Celebrating its 40th year in Iowa, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program equips participants to grow in knowledge about gardening best practices. Once the training is completed, 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.

The Cass County Extension office held training sessions this past fall, with classes held throughout September and October at the Extension Office and other locations around Cass County to allow for hands-on learning. At their year end meeting and potluck on November 19, the Cass County Master Gardeners congratulated the 5 trainees who successfully completed the course and are beginning their internship year.

After completing the course, Master Gardener interns volunteer 40 hours within the community to finish their training.  At the November meeting, two trainees from the Fall 2017 Class were also awarded their completion certificates, moving them up to full Master Gardener status. 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 annually. Cass County has an active Master Gardener group that participates in many projects throughout the year, so opportunities to learn and volunteer are plentiful!

By becoming Master Gardeners, trainees 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 keolson@iastate.edu. You can also keep up with Cass County Master Gardner activities throughout the year by following the group on Facebook at Cass County IA Master Gardeners.