University of Illinois Extension horticulture team has extensive resources addressing home and commercial horticultural interests. Below are collections representing the most requested topics, but our expertise covers everything from trees to tomatoes to tulips.

Our Cook County horticulture team manages a Master Gardener volunteer certification program. Master Gardeners are a vital resource in helping bring knowledge to the public.


Have a Gardening Question? Email our Master Gardeners!

Email questions to uiemg-cookchicago@mx.uillinois.edu

Registration is closed for the Fall 2022 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 closed September 12, 2022. 
  • Illinois Extension in Cook County will be offering five live virtual workshops via Zoom at no charge. Workshops dates are as follows: 
    • October 11, 2022 - Landscape Design
    • October 25, 2022 - Season Extension
    • November 1, 2022 - Native Plants and Conservation@Home
    • November 29, 2022 - School and Community Garden Management
    • December 13, 2022 - 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

  • Successfully complete the 12-module asynchronous virtual horticulture training course
  • Attend the five two-hour virtual workshops offered by Cook County
  • Apply to be interviewed by February 2023.

The volunteer application opens on January 16 and closes on February 15, 2023.

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 60 hours of volunteer work as an intern at pre-approved sites determined by your local coordinator. To remain an active MG volunteer, 30 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of Continuing Education are required yearly.