Twenty-one New Master Gardeners Trained in Fall 2017

A new crop of volunteers completed University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener training on November 7, 2017. Twenty-one energetic trainees culminated their ten-week Master Gardener training course by advancing to intern status.

Traditionally held during winter, training was moved to fall to allow for more outdoor learning activities and less missed snow days. It was also an opportunity to combine three of the ten classes with Master Naturalist training occurring at the same time. Combining classes not only brought trainees together to begin future project collaborations but also saved resources.

Classes took place at the Pekin, Lewistown, and Peoria Extension offices, as well as at Spoon River College, Jubilee historical site, Peoria NRCS, and ICC. This allowed trainees to see current MG projects and learn from experts in locations beyond their home county. All in all, trainees received 60 hours of training on a wide variety of topics like botany, soils, food crops, landscape plants, plant health, and pest management.

This year's crop of 20 new trainees came from Canton, Peoria, Cuba, Bartonville, Hickory Hills, Washington, Dunlap, Hanna City, Tremont, Bryant, Pekin, Farmington, and Morton. One out-of-state transfer also attended training.

The group is now trained to help share the latest and greatest gardening information. This group will help answer gardening questions, establish and maintain demonstration gardens, work with the youth, provide garden therapy for seniors and those disabled, advise community gardeners, and much more.

The new interns join the 169 Master Gardeners already "Helping Others Learn to Grow" in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. Rhonda Ferree, extension educator in horticulture, says, "Our volunteers potentially reach 375,000 people annually, which is about 10% of the population in each county."

Learn more about the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program covering Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties at There you'll find details about current happenings as well as information on future classes.