Search for Excellence Awards


Search for Excellence (SFE) is the recognition program of the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteer work throughout the United States, Canada, and South Korea. SFE has six categories in which EMGs can demonstrate their outstanding contributions to their communities. All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place, whether by the EMG or the general public.

All Extension Master Gardener volunteer projects are significant to their communities, but not all are SFE projects. The SFE is designed to recognize outstanding group projects and not an individual who does outstanding work.

Project submission must meet the following guidelines to qualify for SFE awards:

  1. Choose the single category that best fits the project. Only one project may be submitted by a group per category:

  2. Projects will be judged on their merit from work done between the years of the upcoming International Master Gardener Conference (IMGC). Projects entered must have completed a full year to be entered. Program projects that have previously won IMGC SFE awards are not eligible in any category.

  3. Simple to replicate. A goal of SFE is to share the excellent ideas and programs so that they can be replicated by other MG groups. A 20-acre botanic garden would be difficult to replicate, but the gardening ideas inside it might be easy to recreate at another site. A step-by-step “how to do this” would be a great way to share your project.

  4. Practicality. An SFE program is one that is easy to use and fits well for its intended situation. In other words, you have found the best way possible to meet a need of your community. For example: You could develop a wonderful program with a $20.00 admission cost, but if people can’t afford the cost, they won’t come.

  5. Original and creative. We are looking for that added touch that makes this program your own, or that reflects the personalities of the Master Gardeners involved. We don’t want you to recreate the wheel, just maybe parts of it so that it fits your situation.

  6. Compatible with Extension and EMG missions. Make sure to specifically link your project with the goals listed in 1-4, below. Do not assume that the reader can figure out that your project is compatible with Extension and EMG missions.

          • Projects should have an educational component.

          • Projects must be available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientations, national origin, and marital or family status.

          • Projects should extend the resources of the University to the public wherever they live, helping them use knowledge to solve problems at work, at home, and in their communities.

          • Information provided should be university research-based.

  7. We also consider whether significant learning occurred, as well as the number of people impacted by the program.