Employee Melissa Peterson: Getting Involved with Master Gardeners

Over 85 percent of TS Banking Group employees are proud to volunteer in their communities. Our company understands how busy life can be, and as a result, offers Volunteer-Time-Off to give employees more of an opportunity to get involved by using 50 hours of paid time per year to go toward volunteerism. Here is the story of an employee who found a way to combine her personal skills and passion while helping others.

Director of Marketing, Melissa Peterson, is well on the way to becoming a master gardener and is a huge supporter of the program, which she says “has been a great experience seeing the impact Master Gardeners can make in our community.”

Why join Iowa Master Gardeners?
Iowa Master Gardeners are community-focused individuals who have completed classroom training provided by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach experts and then share their expertise as volunteers in our communities. Some of the ways that Master Gardeners give back are: planting, weeding, watering at local community gardens, city beautification projects and educating others through classes, the annual spring conference and the phone line.


The mission of the Iowa State University Extension & Outreach Master Gardener Program is to provide current, research-based, home horticulture information and education to the citizens of Iowa through programs and projects. Through their participation in educational activities, Master Gardeners also increase their knowledge in horticulture. Master Gardeners extend Iowa State University Extension & Outreach’s consumer horticulture education programs through volunteer activity.

Since 1979 more than 10,000 Iowans have received Master Gardener Training from ISU Extension. The program exists in all 50 states and Iowa's program is coordinated by ISU Extension. Each year, Iowa Master Gardeners provide more than 90,000 hours of volunteer service in our communities.

What is required?
Each Master Gardener intern is required to complete 40 hours of class rooming training, which includes a trip to Iowa State University campus. Classes are taught by ISU faculty, local horticulture experts and extension educators. Topics include: houseplants, flowers, grass, vegetables, propagation, plant pathology and entomology. Then the following year, each intern completes 40 hours of volunteering. To keep your certification, you need to finish 20 hours of volunteering and ten educational hours each year.

Melissa, what are some examples of projects your involved in?
I completed my classroom training last fall and have worked on a variety of projects so far this year. The Treynor Optimist Club teamed up with Pottawattamie County Master Gardeners to prune trees, lay mulch and plant a tree with the third-grade class at Treynor Schools this spring. We have also been weeding and mulching flower beds at the Midlands Humane Society in Council Bluffs. Also, I helped with the annual Master Gardener plant sale and the annual spring garden conference. A group of Master Gardeners also worked on replanting, weeding and mulching the Mick Ryan Memorial Garden at Westfair along with the front bed. Make sure to stop by both gardens when you are at fair this year. TS Bank was proud to support their efforts with a donation of $500. Also, look for a few gardening 101 sessions provided by the Master Gardeners at Westfair on Thursday, July 27.

Why would you suggest others join Master Gardeners?
Having only lived in Southwest Iowa for a few years, is has given me a great opportunity to meet new people with the same interests that I have. I am part of a great group of interns who bring a TON of fun while at the same time work hard as a team. I’ve also broadened my overall knowledge of all types of gardening, landscaping and pest management. It’s a great match for me and opportunity for me to give back while doing something I am passionate about. It’s exciting to see the impact we can have!

How can I get involved?
The deadline for applying for Master Gardener training is September 1. Learn how to apply here. The training is open to gardeners of all levels.

TS Banking Group is always looking for new ways to give back. Do you have a volunteer opportunity you would like to share with our employees? Email us at

Melissa Peterson Headshot.pngMelissa Peterson joined TS Banking Group in 2014 and today serves as the Director of Marketing. Melissa works with all departments and entities within the TS Banking Group to develop and implement marketing strategies. Melissa is originally from Nevada, IA and was a graduate of Nevada High School. She attended Iowa State University and earned her BFA in 2007. Her work experience includes over 10 years in photography, advertising, marketing and design. Melissa is actively involved with the West Pottawattamie Master Gardeners. 

Topics: Community