Chicago Master Gardeners

Registration is closed for the Online Master Gardener Coursework and Volunteer Application

The next Master Gardener (MG) training in Cook County is projected to take place in 2024. Please check back for more information in early 2024.

Structure of the MG Program


  • 12-module asynchronous virtual horticulture training course
  • People who take this training either
    • want to learn about horticulture for their own personal knowledge
    • want to learn about horticulture AND share that knowledge with their communities as Master Gardener (MG) volunteers. 
  • You may register for the online classes covering MG coursework without applying to be a volunteer.
  • $300 fee for course administered through the Illinois Extension State MG Program
  • Registration is currently closed
  • In conjunction with the state online training, Extension in Cook County typically offers five live virtual workshops via Zoom. Topics may include: 
    • Landscape Design
    • Season Extension
    • Native Plants and Conservation@Home
    • School and Community Garden Management
    • Researching Plant Questions

Applying to be a Master Gardener Volunteer in Cook County

Application Process:

If you are interested in sharing your horticulture knowledge as a MG volunteer you must 1) successfully complete the 12-module asynchronous virtual horticulture training course and 2) attend the five 2-hour virtual workshops and 3) apply to be interviewed.

Due to the large population of Cook County, the MG program is divided into three geographic areas: South Suburban, Chicago, and North Suburban. You are encouraged to apply in the area where you live. We receive more applications than volunteer spots available, applying does not guarantee acceptance into the volunteer program. The application process includes an interview and background checks.

If you are selected for the MG volunteer program, you have two years to complete 40 hours of volunteer work as an intern at pre-approved sites determined by your local coordinator. To remain an active MG volunteer, 20 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of Continuing Education are required yearly.


About us

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. 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.


Have a Gardening Question? Email our Master Gardeners!

Email questions to