North Cook County Master Gardeners

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

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 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 SuburbanChicago, 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.


Who Are We?

Master Gardeners are a vital link to getting research-based horticultural information to the public through University of Illinois Extension offices. They are volunteers who are passionate about gardening, plants, community, teaching, and the environment. Delivering horticultural education is what they’re all about! Master Gardeners have no products or services to sell, so they can provide unbiased, research-based information from the University of Illinois to the public. They serve youth and adults of all ages and backgrounds through free or low-cost public programming.

Their mission is Helping Others Learn to Grow. Master Gardeners involve people in improving their quality of life by helping them find sound management practices for home and urban natural resources, by creating aesthetically pleasing environments, by promoting well-being through people-plant interactions, and by contributing to a safe, abundant food supply through home fruit and vegetable production.

The North Suburban Cook County Master Gardener Program serves the suburban Cook County area north of Roosevelt Road. 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 Chicago and Cook South units. Additionally, Chicago Botanic Garden runs a Master Gardener program.


What We Do

To continue being certified active volunteers, MGs are required to volunteer a minimum of 30 hours each year and complete 10 hours of approved continuing education annually. Volunteers work in their communities teaching the public about horticulture topics. Please see the program request forms below to request programming!

Volunteers also run a year-round answer desk where you can ask your gardening questions.

Have a Gardening Question? Email our Master Gardeners!

Email questions to