The Iowa Master Gardener program will hold 2014 winter trainings at 16 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county offices beginning in January. The Master Gardener course includes 40 hours of web-based local training and a one-day training session on the Iowa State University campus. Trainings will be hosted in Polk County and Story/Boone County.

"Iowans interested in gardening and in volunteering in their community should consider joining the Iowa Master Gardener program," said Denny Schrock, Iowa Master Gardener coordinator. "We welcome long-term veterans of gardening, novices and those with varying degrees of experience as new trainees."

Iowa Master Gardener training covers many aspects of gardening – from soil and weed management to botany and growing all types of plants. Since its inception in 1979, the Iowa program has trained more than 10,000 participants. To see a full description of the topics covered, visit the Iowa Master Gardener website at www.mastergardener.iastate.edu

In exchange for training, Master Gardener participants are expected to share their time and knowledge in approved projects within their local communities. Trainees must complete a one-year Master Gardener internship consisting of 40 hours of approved volunteer service projects. Additional volunteer hours and ongoing educational updates are required in subsequent years to maintain active Master Gardener status.

"Master Gardeners may work at local public gardens, schools, nursing homes, or other community beautification or education projects," said Schrock. "Some Master Gardeners answer questions on the radio, give presentations at gardening seminars, or discuss plants at local plant sales. There are many ways to volunteer."

The Master Gardener program is unique both for its community emphasis and because it is based on the broad research-based resources of Iowa State University. Master Gardeners provide a credible source of information about home gardening in across Iowa, said Schrock.