Master Gardeners' Speakers Bureau
Our Speakers Bureau provides engaging horticultural presentations to adult audiences, free of charge (except when noted for workshop materials). All speakers are Master Gardener volunteers who have completed over 60 hours of training from University of Illinois Extension, plus years of personal gardening experience.
Presentations are a minimum of 20 minutes, though most topics can be modified to fill more time. Speakers may accept mileage reimbursement, or donations may be made to Coles County Extension.
The Master Gardeners are happy to present the topics listed to community groups in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties. If you have a need for a specific topic that is not listed, please let us know and we will try to accommodate your request.
View our printable brochure containing all of the below information.
To book a presentation for adult audiences, fill out the online request form.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Cool Season Crops - Cool season crops, such as lettuce, carrots, and kale prefer the cooler temperatures and can be grown in spring or fall. Learn how to plant, care for, and harvest these quick-growing vegetables.
- Fruit Tree Grafting - Grafting is a technique used to create or improve plants by combining roots, stems, branches, or a combination of plant parts together for improved disease resistance, increased growth rate, dwarfing, etc.
- Grow Your Own Backyard Tree Fruit - Tree fruits can be grown in your backyard with proper care and training. This presentation reveals reasons for managing your backyard tree fruits wisely. Learn the basics of backyard tree fruits and how selection, training, and pruning are key factors for success.
- Herb Gardening - Participants will learn how to select, plant and maintain herb gardens so that they add beauty to the home landscape, while offering added culinary and other uses.
- Hydroponics for Food Production - Utilizing old spaces and abandoned places to grow food can be done using nutrient rich water. Join Bruce as he discusses how growing plants in water under controlled-environment conditions, and maximizing what the plants need to produce food indoors could help to feed your family or local communities.
- Tomato Troubles - Tomatoes are one of the most popular and commonly grown plants in home gardens. Learn about common problems that plague tomatoes as well as ways to address them.
- Indoor Edible Gardens - Gardening is not limited to outside in the summer. The Edible Indoor Garden shows you how to grow your own fresh herbs, salad greens, and more anytime of the year.
- Vegetable Gardening in Raised Beds and Containers - Don’t have usable space in the ground to grow your vegetables? Learn how to use above ground growing systems for safe and fruitful production of your favorite backyard vegetables. Methods to increase production by maximizing your space, recommended soil and fertilizer practices and construction material options will be reviewed.
- Bargain Gardens - Don't let a limited budget keep you out of the garden. Find out how gardens can be simple, fun, and inexpensive. You’ll learn gardening tips and ideas that will save you time and money.
- Container Gardening - Participants will learn how to select, plant, and maintain container gardens so that they can become attractive season long additions to the home landscape. Program includes recipes for outstanding container displays.
- Fall Garden Cleanup - End of the growing season cleanup can be a daunting task, especially with large yards. This presentation will help organize fall tasks into an easy month-by-month to-do list and provide a printable checklist to help you check-off the tasks.
- The Meaning of Flowers - Floriography - Should you send a red or white rose to the one you love? Through the ages, various flowers and floral arrangements have taken on subtle and secret messages that allow us to express our unspoken feelings. Learn how to send the most appropriate floral message to your friends and family.
- Naughty, Nasty, & Simple Annoying Plants - Nasty plants can be found everywhere, including indoors. Whether they sting, poke, irritate skin, or have other poisonous tendencies, some plants need special care when handling. Learn how to use and live among these plants safely. Plants covered include poison ivy, nettles, snakeroot, and more.
- Seasonal Care for the Home Landscape: Summer/Fall - Every season there are things that need to be done in our home landscapes and gardens. Our lawns, trees & shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens need to be taken care of to keep them looking and producing their best. Seasonal Care for the Home Landscape: Summer/Fall offers tips and advice for basic maintenance June through November.
- Seasonal Care for the Home Landscape: Winter/Spring - Every season there are things that need to be done in our home landscapes and gardens. Our lawns, trees & shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens need to be taken care of to keep them looking and producing their best. Seasonal Care for the Home Landscape: Winter/Spring offers tips and advice for basic maintenance December through May.
- Seed Saving - Most gardeners wait until the fall to decide they want to save seeds. This results in lower quality seeds for next year. By planning your garden for seed saving, you can get high-quality seeds for the future! Learn important concepts and techniques for seed saving such as open pollination and variety isolation to get the best quality seeds for your garden! We will also discuss harvesting and seed storage.
- Beneficial Insects: Garden Warriors - Gardeners tend to focus on insects that eat their plants without paying attention to insects that act as warriors in the garden by either eating the bad bugs or parasitizing them. Learn about the most common beneficial insects with and never accidentally kill a good bug again.
- Living with Japanese Beetles - Japanese beetles are one of the most destructive ornamental pests found in Illinois, and unfortunately, they’re here to stay. This presentation discusses Japanese beetles as well as ways you can manage them in your own landscape.
- Native Pollinators - When it comes to pollination, honey bees get a majority of the attention. However, many insects play a role in pollination. This presentation will discuss different native pollinators and how to make your landscape attractive to them.
- Swallowtails of Illinois (butterflies) - Learn more about swallowtail butterflies of Illinois and their identification, plants that attract them, and their habits in the landscape. These large beautiful butterflies can be a welcome sight to any backyard garden.
- Creating a Shady Garden Respite - This presentation covers both the art and science of gardening in the shade. Learn how to garden in the shade and give a variety of plant options beyond the usual hosta and fern. You’ll also learn other elements that are needed to round out a relaxing space that connects you with nature.
- Designing a Flower Bed with Seasonal Interest - Have you ever seen a garden that just took your breath away? You visit again, two months later, and the garden is again in full glory. How do people do this? How do you design a garden that offers visual interest through the seasons? This lesson will walk you through the design process step-by-step. You will learn how to plan a garden that will offer you visual interest spring through fall with a few winter accents as well.
- Edible Landscapes - By combining fruit and nut trees, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers or berry bushes in aesthetically pleasing ways, edible landscapes can be just as attractive as ornamental ones. Learn how to eat your yard by creating a tasteful home landscape using edible plants.
- Energy Efficient Landscaping - Sustainable and energy efficient landscapes are common buzzwords in today’s gardening circles and can be overwhelming to the novice gardener. Learn tips for how your landscape can help keep your energy costs down and make you yard more environmentally friendly.
- Tea Gardens - The tradition of making and taking tea in the garden is steeped in garden history. Today tea gardens also provide enchanting outdoor spaces that are soothing, productive, sustainable, and lovely to visit. Learn about different types of tea gardens and the tea garden design components that make these great spaces to enjoy tea. Various plants used to make tea will also be covered.
- Easy Care Native Plants - Many home gardeners would like to add native plants to their garden, but are unsure how to start. This program takes a look at the native plants that are low maintenance and grow in a wide range of conditions. Native grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs will be covered.
- Bulbs: Basics, Myths, and Truths - Bust some of the myths we always thought were true with latest research. This presentation is an interactive style that will allow the presenter to make a statement allowing the audience to vote if they think it is a truth or myth before revealing the answer. This presentation will allow the Master Gardeners to teach the basics of bulb care during the late summer and fall months while gardeners are planting.
- Carnivorous Plants - Carnivorous plants are unique and fascinating plants that have captured peoples’ imaginations for years. This presentation discusses why carnivorous plants have evolved to ‘eat’ meat, the different ways carnivorous plants go about capturing their prey, as well as, their unique care requirements.
- Growing Cacti and Succulents - Learn how to grow your own water-wise, cacti and succulent plants perfect for surviving those hot, dry, summer months.
- Houseplant Propagation - Are your houseplants overgrown and leggy? Would you like more of your favorites or does a friend want a start of one of you plants? This program will show you how to propagate houseplants using a number of different techniques including leaf or stem cuttings, division, and air layering. This will be a hands-on session and everyone attending will take home a new plant.
- How to Have Healthy Houseplants - Houseplants add life and beauty to a home. Learn simple tips to select and care for houseplants. After this program, even those with “brown garden thumbs” will know how to have healthy houseplants throughout their home.
- Late Summer and Fall Colors in the Garden - Late summer and fall gardens often look worn out and tired after the riot of spring and summer color. Our fall gardens don’t have to look tired and past their prime. Many plants are available to give you a fall “WOW” factor. Learn how to rev up your August-September garden with perennials, ornamental grasses and the fall color of trees & shrubs.
- All Walks of Leaf (Tree ID) - Illinois has many native and non-native tree species, and leaves are not the only way to identify them! Bark, twigs, buds, flowers, and fruit can also be helpful in identification. Learn to recognize tree species based on the size, shape, and appearance of tree parts.
- How to Kill Your Tree: A guide of what NOT to do - Sometimes a tree’s biggest pest is the homeowner. This presentation discusses common mistakes homeowners make when planting and maintaining their most valuable landscape investment, their trees.
- Tree Health Assessment - Tree health can be difficult to determine, but routinely checking your tree may help you notice problems as they appear. Join University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Chris Enroth, as he discusses the most common issues that cause tree decline in the landscape and how to identify them.