Serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties

Master Gardeners are University of Illinois Extension volunteers who share research based horticulture information with gardeners of all ages.

They serve the residents of Ford-Iroquois Counties by organizing programs and projects that extend knowledge on flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit, trees, shrubs and more.

Master Gardeners help promote a better understanding of plant diseases, organic gardening, composting, native plants and the importance of pollinators.

In 2019, About 17 Ford-Iroquois Master Gardeners volunteered about 1,400 hours making their community a better place to live!

Here are some of the ways they are active in the area:

  • Design, plant and care for an educational Idea Garden at the Onarga Library 
  • Plant and manage a community garden at the Gibson City Reservoir/Fishing Pond
  • Provide garden themed presentations to the local community through their Speakers Bureau
  • Organize educational field trips for Master Gardeners
  • Participate in Citizen Scientist Programs like Cocorahs and IPollinate
  • Hold plant shares each year 
  • Participate in the Monarch Watch Program, tagging monarchs each fall

The Master Gardener mission is "Helping Others Learn to Grow".

Master Gardener objectives are to:

  • Expand the ability of University of Illinois Extension to distribute horticultural information to local communities
  • Develop and enhance community programs related to horticulture.
  • Develop the leadership potential of Master Gardener volunteers 

Master Gardeners enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. Come see their work and be inspired!

Visit the Gibson City Fishing Pond 460 N 300E Rd or the FIMG Idea Garden at the Onarga Library 209 W Seminary Ave and view educational demonstration areas like these:

  • Butterfly Garden
  • Vegetable Garden Planted with Fall Cover Crop 
  • Herb Garden
  • Annuals and Perennials
  • Native Plants
  • Compost Bin
  • Rain Barrel Irrigation System

The Master Gardener Volunteer program may be for you. All you need is:

  • an interest in gardening and learning
  • a willingness to share your knowledge with others

How to Become a Master Gardener

An online option is available and starts in January 2021. The online course is at-your-own-pace. During training, volunteers learn about many different facets of indoor and outdoor gardening.

  • You must complete 60 hours of online instruction 
  • There are open-book quizzes to complete at home
  • Classes and quizzes are at your own pace
  • Once you complete the classes you are required to complete 60 volunteer hours within two years of training at approved FIMG projects. This period of time may be expanded depending on Covid restrictions and ensuring safety for volunteers.

If you are interested in taking online training please contact Jenney Hanrahan to begin the application process or fill out our online form below.

Classes for Ford-Iroquois Master Gardeners are offered in Champaign and Danville offices. Choose which option suits your schedule best. Upon completion you will be a Master Gardener in Ford-Iroquois Counties.

  • Vermillion Training Schedule Coming Soon! (a hybrid of in-person and remote learning is planned)
  • Champaign Training Schedule Online Classes only in 2021

To complete the application process and to maintain certified active Master Gardener status, volunteers must complete:

Active/Certified Master Gardeners

  • Master Gardener Annual Agreement

To Report Volunteer Hours

Report Master Gardener Volunteer Hours - Online 


Attend Monthly Meetings: Meetings are scheduled for second Tuesday of the month at the Iroquois County U of I Extension Office- 916 W Seminary Ave, Onarga, IL 60955-0163

  • Subcommittee meetings from 9 or 9:30-10 a.m.
  • Business meeting is from 10 am to 11 a.m.
  • Continuing Education offered from 11-Noon
  • Workdays may follow in the afternoon during the growing season
  • No July or December meetings

Volunteer at Onarga Idea Garden and Gibson City Garden

  • Onarga Library Garden Sections include: Welcome Sign, West Border, Cottage, Vegetable, Herb, Butterfly, Natives, North Border, Composting, Maintenance
  • Gibson City Garden includes: Rain Barrel, Native Shrubs, Annuals and Perennials for Pollinators

Speaker's Bureau  presentations available by Master Gardeners in Ford-Iroquois Counties. Call 815-268-4051 for more information

  • Seed Starting 101 
  • Medieval Plants
  • Annuals and Perennials 
  • Seeds, Seeds, Seeds 
  • Fairy Gardens 
  • Milkweeds and Monarchs 
  • Pollinator Pockets 
  • Container Gardening
  • Right Plant -Right Place 
  • Gardening With Children
  • Making a Dried Herb Wreaths 
  • Make a Live Pumpkin Centerpiece with Succulents 
  • Other Opportunities:
  • Raised Bed Consultation 
  • Monarch Watch -Tagging Monarchs in September 
  • Organize Field Trips
  • Serve as Officer 
  • Maintain Idea Garden Scrapbook,
  • Help organize IGA Cookout fundraiser and Plant Share in May
  • Idea Garden Open House 
  • Help with Garden Walk in June
  • Watseka Harvest Days and Plant Share in October

Education Hours Opportunities:

  • Field Trips, Garden Days, Webinars, Attend MG Training Classes