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Applications Due July 1; Training Begins in August

Applications are now being accepted for anyone interested in the Iowa Master Gardener training, which will be offered 100 percent online in the fall. The training is available to anyone with computer access and includes 17 online modules.

The move to online means that Iowans can participate in the full training from the comfort of their home, or anywhere a reliable internet connection is available. As the training is self-paced, participants can work through the book chapters and online materials at their own pace, on their own time, making the training more accessible to local residents with busy schedules.

A total of 17 educational modules will be offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, on topics that include houseplants, pollinators, vegetables, and perennial flowers. Each course module includes a book chapter, lecture video, online discussion board and a quiz. Through the online discussion board, trainees can connect to share ideas about how they plan to volunteer and what they are learning about different topics.

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 contributions such as donating vegetables to food pantries, leading community beatification projects and maintaining demonstration gardens at local parks and county fairgrounds.

Iowa State has offered Master Gardener training since 1977, engaging more than 15,000 people in learning about gardening best practices. This year, the course is being offered online via the Canvas online learning system. In addition to the online workshops, Cass County Extension plans to offer several hands-on workshops for trainees throughout the fall so they can meet other local class members and gain hands-on experiences with class topics.

Applicants for the 2021 training must apply by Thursday, July 1. The online class begins in mid-August. Participants registering online will receive materials in the mail prior to the start of the course. Apply and learn more about the program online at

The fee for the training is $195 and covers all class materials. 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. At the end of the course, there is one open-book test that participants will need to pass to complete the course and receive their certificate. 

After completion of the MG Training, participants have 13 months to complete 40 volunteer hours. Annually, Master Gardener status can be maintained with 20 volunteer hours per year and 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! Examples of local Master Gardener volunteer projects include educational workshops and seminars, maintaining community parks and demonstration gardens, and donating fresh produce to food pantries. 

Iowans who want professional development training for their job and who do not plan to volunteer can participate in the ProHort option, for a fee of $550. No background check is required for this option.

For more information, contact the Cass County Extension Office at 712-243-1132, or email Cass County Extension Director and Master Gardner Coordinator Kate Olson at [email protected]. Online program registration can be completed at