Ford-Iroquois Counties Master Gardeners
The Ford Iroquois Master Gardeners serve the community by organizing programs and projects that promote knowledge on flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit, trees, shrubs, and more. Master Gardeners help provide a better understanding of plant diseases, organic gardening, composting, native plants, and the importance of pollinators. In 2023, About 12 Master Gardeners volunteered close to 1,500 hours making their community a better place to live!
If you enjoy gardening, learning, and sharing your knowledge with others, the Master Gardener program is for you. Registration for classes has ended, however you may wish to fill out the interest form to receive information on classes next fall. The next Master Gardener training will take place in the Winter/Spring of 2025.
Volunteers make a commitment to complete 40 volunteer hours on approved Master Gardener projects within two years.
What Do Volunteers Do?
Here are some of the ways our volunteers are active in Ford and Iroquois Counties:
- 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
- Raise vegetables at Iroquois Memorial Hospital Garden for the community.
- Provide garden-themed presentations to the local community through their Speakers Bureau
- Participate in Citizen Scientist Programs like Cocorahs.
- Organize educational field trips for fellow Master Gardeners
- Participate in the Monarch Watch Program, tagging monarchs each fall.
- Serve as an officer including President, Vice President, Secretary, or Committee Chair
- Help organize IGA Cookout fundraiser and Plant Share
Meetings are (normally) scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month at the Iroquois County U of I Extension Office- 916 W Seminary Ave, Onarga, IL 60955-0163
- A business meeting is from 10 am to 11 a.m.
- Workdays may follow in the afternoon during the growing season
- No July or December meetings
Continuing Education Opportunities:
- Field Trips, Garden Days, Webinars
- Extension Horticulture Events
Ford Iroquois Master Gardeners Assist Monarch Watch
- Since 2016 Master Gardeners have tagged over 500 monarchs for Monarch Watch
- Butterflies are netted and a small white tag is carefully placed under the lower wing in the fall when migration to Mexico occurs
- In 2018 one of the butterflies tagged by a FIMG was recovered near Baja, Mexico, another was recovered in 2022.
- The recovered monarchs tag data is sent to Monarch Watch. The date and location are recorded to help scientists monitor migration success
Request a Speaker for your Group
Our Master Gardeners are trained by Extension Educators to give research-based lessons to public groups. Speaker's Bureau presentations are available by Master Gardeners in Ford-Iroquois Counties. Call 815-268-4051 for more information. Here is a sample of potential topics:
- Seed Starting 101
- Medieval Plants
- Annuals and Perennials
- Seeds, Seeds, Seeds
- Fairy Gardens -organization must provide supplies
- Milkweeds and Monarchs
- Pollinator Pockets
- Container Gardening
- Right Plant -Right Place
- Gardening With Children
Visit the Gibson City Fishing Pond 460 N 300E Rd, Gibson City, IL or the Onarga Idea Garden at the Onarga Public Library, 209 W Seminary Ave, Onarga, IL
Master Gardeners enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. Visit 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
It is essential that you report all volunteer hours earned using the reporting website. These hours enable the sponsors to understand the value provided by Master Gardeners and to justify continued support for the program.