Master Gardeners share unbiased, research-based horticultural information with home landscapers and gardeners. Another important function of the organization is to encourage young people to enjoy the pleasures of flower and vegetable growing through the Junior Master Gardener program.
Who We Are
Interested in Becoming a Master Gardener
If you enjoy gardening and like to learn to share your gardening knowledge, the Master Gardener program may be for you. All you need is an interest in gardening, an open mind, and a willingness to share your knowledge with others. The task to the Master Gardeners is to share unbiased, reliable, research-based information with home landscapers and gardeners. Another important function is to encourage young people to enjoy the pleasures of flower and vegetable growing.
How To Become A Master Gardener
Join our waiting list. Applicants will then go through a screening and interview process when training becomes available.
What training is required? (2 options available in 2024)
Participants will study online each week and attend a weekly live webinar session on Tuesdays online from 9-10:30 AM for 12 weeks.
2024 Dates- Put your name on the waiting list at least 2 weeks prior to the start date you prefer and you will be contacted by county staff.
February 6- April 16 | Live Webinar Tuesdays from 9-10:30 AM
September 10-November 26 | Live Webinar Tuesdays from 9-10:30 AM
Hybrid Training will include 11 webinars - an introduction and 10 core subject areas. Subjects include Introduction; Botany; Soils and Fertilizers; Plant Diseases; Entomology; Integrated Pest Management; Annuals and Perennials; Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines; Lawns; Small and Tree Fruits; and Vegetables. This training has a hands-on activity for each module that will be done at the Extension office when convenient for the trainee. The training includes videos, a Master Gardener manual, reading materials, and quizzes. Trainees can expect to spend at least 4 hours per week working on the content on their own. This includes reading the chapter, completing the quiz, and viewing all the content in Moodle. The fee for the hybrid training is $175 which covers the fee for the textbook.
Self-paced training for 14 weeks with online quizzes.
2024 Dates- Put your name on the waiting list by Jan 10 and you will be contacted by county staff.
January 29-May 6
Our online training is a great opportunity for folks who need more flexibility to participate. It is a self-paced program that can be completed at any
time. The training includes videos, a manual, reading materials, and quizzes. The course can be completed in 14 weeks with four hours of weekly work. A strong internet connection is highly recommended. This course is aimed at exposing participants to in-depth horticulture content through 13 modules – Introduction, Botany; Soils and Fertilizers; Diagnostics and Plant Diseases; Entomology; Integrated Pest Management; Annuals/Perennials; Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines; Lawns; Small Fruits and Tree Fruits; Vegetables; Composting/Organic Gardening; and Living with Wildlife. The fee for the online training is $300 which covers the textbook and online class fee.
Local counties may offer a limited number of fee waivers for local training of those interested in becoming Master Gardener volunteers. Ask your local county for more information if this is needed.
Certified Active Master Gardener
To maintain certified University of Illinois Master Gardener status requires a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of education annually and is valid for one year.
Master Help Desk
Problems with your yard or garden? Are pests or weeds concerning you? You have questions, we have answers! Master Gardeners can help you with those gardening questions. They can assist in identifying problems and finding solutions. Email your local extension office with your concerns and a Master Gardener will do the research and respond back.
Carroll County: E-mail | Phone 815-244-9444
Lee County: E-mail | Phone 815-857-3525
Whiteside County: E-mail | Phone 815-632-3611
Master Gardener available Mondays, or leave a message.