Chicago Cook County Master Gardeners

Fall 2022 Master Gardener Training- Cook County: If you completed the 2020-2021 interest list before 12-31-2021 and have received your next steps, please refrain from completing the new interest list below. 

If you have not completed the interest list before and would like to receive information about Fall 2022 training, please click the button in the section below. 

Who We Are

Do you enjoy gardening and would like to learn more? Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others? The Chicago 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 Chicago Master Gardener Program is for residents of Chicago and nearby suburbs. Master Gardeners must do the volunteering in the program area they apply. There are separate Master Gardener Programs for greater Cook County. These are in the Cook North and Cook South units. Additionally, Chicago Botanic Garden runs a Master Gardener program.

The Master Gardener adult volunteer program is nationwide. Master Gardeners are a vital link that allows horticultural information to be passed on to the public through University of Illinois Extension offices.

Thank you for your interest in the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program.

Volunteer Program- Apply after course training. 

In return for the training, Master Gardeners give back at least 60 hours of volunteer time to the Chicago Master Gardener Program within a year. Volunteering can take the form of answering questions from consumers at the Plant Clinic or working on special projects such as The Great Plant Escape, leading school gardens in high need areas of Chicago, providing technical assistance for community gardens, worm composting demonstrations, insect petting zoo at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, alleviating food insecurity through Grace Seeds Ministry, working with patients at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, the Lurie Garden, Garfield Park Conservatory and providing information at Farmer's Markets.


Have a Gardening Question? Email our Master Gardeners!

Email questions to



Since 2010, Extension has undergone a multi-year reorganization to adjust to decreasing funding, especially on the state level. As a result, the number of educators available for teaching the "live" training has decreased. Alternating program years will allow the Chicago unit to explore alternative training formats to continue to deliver high-quality training despite staff reductions.

Over the past few years, interest in the Master Gardener program has increased dramatically, and we have trained more students every year. Although the number of participants in our "live" training remains limited due to room size, we have had more and more online trainees. Although online training does not require teaching staff, it does require administrative time to acclimate trainees to the volunteer portion of the program. Taking a year off will allow Extension staff to focus on retaining the existing 300+ Master Gardener volunteers, providing advanced training opportunities, and developing their potential as project leaders.

Thank you for understanding and respecting our position.