South 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

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 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 We Are

The Master Gardener (MG) adult volunteer certification program is nationwide. Master Gardeners are a vital link in getting horticulture information to the public through Illinois Extension offices. Education is what we're all about. With no products or services to sell, Master Gardeners can provide unbiased, research-driven information from the University of Illinois to the public.

Where We Serve

The Cook South Suburban Master Gardener Program focuses primarily on serving the Cook County suburban area south of Roosevelt Road. Master Gardeners are required to complete their volunteer hours in the unit where they train. There are affiliated but separate Master Gardener Programs in the Cook County unit. These are in Cook North Suburban and Cook Chicago units. Additionally, Chicago Botanic Garden runs a Master Gardener program.

Application Process

There is a high volume of interest in our program; not all who apply will be accepted into the training program. Applicants must pass an interview and clear background checks prior to acceptance in the program.

Request Master Gardener Volunteer Assistance

In exchange for this challenging educational experience, Master Gardeners are required to volunteer 60 hours, primarily to share their new knowledge and skills with the community. Master Gardeners are a dedicated group, and many choose to return to volunteer sites year after year to share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners can provide guidance for school and community gardens, fulfill speaker requests, and answer home gardening questions.

To request Master Gardener assistance, please contact Margaret Burns-Westmeyer at Master Gardeners do not deliver programs or presentations at private homes.

Have a Gardening Question? Email our Master Gardeners at

Please record your volunteer hours for all programs. Use the following link to record your hours. Volunteer Time Tracking System 

Register for the free Four Seasons Gardening Webinar Series on the webinar homepage.

Earn continuing education hours by watching University of Illinois Extension YouTube videos

University of Illinois Extension State Master Gardener Program offers additional resources on the Illinois Extension State MG Homepage.