Serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties

gardener with vegetables, evergreen needles, hands potting flower, MG logo

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program open to anyone with the desire to learn and to share information with others about research-based landscape and gardening practices.

Master Gardeners reach into the communities with a variety of projects in partnership with local organizations, and they also staff the Master Gardener Help Desk by assisting residents with garden and landscape questions.

Volunteers participate in extensive training sessions conducted by University of Illinois Extension specialists and educators in horticulture, insects, diseases, grasses, woody and herbaceous ornamentals, and fruits and vegetables. The Master Gardener program provides 60 hours of horticultural training in return for 60 hours of volunteer time. Half of the first 60 volunteer hours must be completed at the Master Gardener Help Desk, which is open to the public during the growing season (see details below).

Need to contact the Help Desk?

Contact a Master Gardener volunteer during operating hours:

April to September, Mon - Fri, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

March and October, M W F, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Interested in volunteering? You do not need to be an experienced gardener to qualify. If you are looking for a way to give back and to grow your knowledge of horticulture, this may be the opportunity for you.

Master Gardener Training Classes

The fall 2019 training session is full. The next training classes are scheduled for fall of 2021 at the Extension office in Yorkville. Training is open to residents of Kane and Kendall Counties.

Click here to sign up to receive email notification of the next training and informational meeting.

Instruction: The Master Gardener curriculum is taught by University of Illinois Extension educators. Attendance at all Master Gardener training classes is required. The topics covered in the classes include: botany, soils, woody ornamentals, basic entomology, tree fruits and small fruits, herbaceous ornamentals, and insect and diseases of plants. Quizzes are given after each class and a final exam (all open book) at the end of the training.

Training Dates: The fall 2019 class is full. The next training is tentatively scheduled for fall 2021. Classes are held one day a week, for 10 weeks, from 8:45 am - 3:30 pm.

Training Location: 2019 - U of I Extension, 535 S Randall Road, St Charles

                              2021 - U of I Extension, 7775 Route 47, Yorkville

Cost: A fee of $350 is charged to cover the class, the award winning Master Gardener Manual, and supplemental handouts. Class participants are required to volunteer 60 hours of time on approved projects.

Volunteering: In exchange for this excellent opportunity, Master Gardener program of Kendall County requires that you donate 60 volunteer hours in support of the program during the growing season. Thirty of these hours are spent answering gardening questions from homeowners at the help desk. An additional 15 hours are required at our Plant Sale. The remaining volunteer hours are spent on approved projects that interest the volunteer.

Registering: If you are interested in becoming a Kendall County Master Gardener click on the link above.  An informational meeting will be held in June, watch your email in May for an invitation. All volunteers must fill out an application and be interviewed prior to being accepted into the program. Background screenings are required to participate in the program.

University of Illinois Extension is pleased to present these horticultural programs to educate and entertain your Kane County group. Contact Progra Coordinator Sarah Fellerer at (630) 584-6166 to schedule a class or series of classes or fill out the Speaker's Bureau Program Interest form.

Body Smart Gardening
Gardening can be of the most rewarding activities with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and expanses of lawns dotted with trees. However, gardening can take a toll on the body, whether you are young or old. This program will give your group steps to make gardening more enjoyable. Topics will include the gardener’s health, clothing, tools, and methods.

Herbs for the Garden and Kitchen
Herbs are a healthy way to introduce new flavors into your diet, new fragrances into your home and add texture to your garden. This class will discuss growing, collecting and preserving techniques for all kinds of herbs and offer suggestions for using herbs in cooking. This is one of our most popular, highly attended programs.

Planning and Planting a Vegetable Garden
Feed your whole family the fruits and vegetables they enjoy from your own garden. From site preparation (size, location and soil) through harvest, a Master Gardener will give your audience the tips and tricks for successful vegetable gardening.

Preparing Your Garden for Winter
End of season tasks prepare your garden for winter and make next season’s garden more successful. Topics include fertilization, watering and weed control, care of perennials, planting spring bulbs and more.

Preparing Your Garden for Spring
Learn the seasonal chores that should be done in spring to get your garden off to a good start. Topics covered include planting seeds indoors and out, planting cool season flowers, seasonal lawn care as well as watering, fertilizing, dividing and pruning.

Seed Starting
Starting seeds indoors is a great way to head off cabin fever and get a significant jump start on your spring garden. A Master Gardener will discuss the timing, seed selection, germination and seedling growth and hardening off young plants before their permanent move outdoors.

Seed Saving

Saving your own seeds is and free. A University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener will discuss how to save seeds from your own garden. Find out which seeds are worth the effort and which are not along with methods of cleaning and storing your seeds.

Start making the richest soil around. Let worms recycle your kitchen waste and newspapers into something you can use. Vermicomposting is great learning experience for kids and adults. Learn how to keep happy and productive worms that will create rich castings to use as fertilizer in your houseplants and garden.

Environmental Topics

Creating Wildlife Habitats in Home Landscapes
No matter what size your yard is, you can create an environment that attracts and sustains beautiful and interesting wildlife. The sounds, activities and antics of wildlife are wonderful additions to the home landscape. Learn how to provide the proper food, water, cover and brooding sites to attract and maintain birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

Conserve Resources using Native Plants
Discover the environmental benefits of gardening with native plants in the home landscape. Learn the true aspects of time-saving ‘low maintenance’ gardening. Native plants require less water, fertilizer and pesticides while providing you with color, uniqueness and a haven for interesting wildlife throughout the growing season.

Prairiescapes—Grow Native!
Discover the advantages of using prairie plants in the home landscape. Learn how to incorporate prairie plants into an existing garden, the fundamentals of starting a new prairie bed, why prairie plants have survived for 8,500 years, and how to be a part of preserving Illinois’ heritage.

Native Plant Selections for Rain Gardens
Rain gardens enhance the home landscape and protect our water quality. Discover just the right native plants to create a beautiful and resourceful rain garden in your home landscape.

Ornamental Topics

Summer Flowering Bulbs
Blooms from bulbs don’t have to end with fading tulips. Explore the many bulbs that contribute dazzling flowers and foliage in the summer garden. Learn how to care for these bulb beauties and their perennial companions.

Shade Gardening
Discover the joys of shade gardening. This program will discuss the different types of shade and the special care needed when gardening in the shade. Plus how to select annuals, perennial bulbs, ground covers, and woody plants that will shine in the shade garden.

Landscaping for Dogs
Find out how your yard and dog can coexist. Hardscapes, fencing, proper plant placement and tough perennials to make the yard a playground for both humans and canines.

Attracting Butterflies to the Garden
Brightly colored butterflies are not only an attractive addition to your garden, they are useful pollinators. Learn about Illinois butterflies and how to design your garden to attract them.

Selecting Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs are the backbone of a well landscaped garden. Their shapes, colors, flowers and fruits change with the seasons providing beauty throughout the year. Learn how to select the proper trees and shrubs for specific sites. This class is very popular with new homeowners.

Edible Ornamentals
Carrots in the front yard? Enhance the bounty of your landscape by growing and eating ornamental flowers, herbs, vegetables and vines that look and taste terrific.

Be Happy and Healthy with Houseplants
Indoor plants can clean the air in the home and bring color and warmth to the décor. Discover which plants are the healthiest for you and how to select and care for the right plant for your space.

Young Audience Topics

Herman the Worm
Herman the Worm is a one-hour activity led by Master Gardeners and is designed to introduce grades 3-5 students to worm anatomy, physiology, behavior, and basic composting. Students receive hands-on experience with living organisms by investigating a live worm with a magnifying glass, learn about worm anatomy with the help of an anatomical puppet, and discuss the role of worms in the environment.

From Seed to Pumpkin
This program, for grades K-2, and introduces the students to the life cycle of pumpkins. Using a felt board story, kids will sharpen observation and sequencing skills. We end with fun pumpkin facts.

The tree that stays green all year is the focus of this lesson for grades K-2. We compare and contrast leaves with evergreens, play a matching game of different evergreen samples, read a story about recycling a Christmas tree and make bird feeders out of pinecones.

Parts of the Plant We Eat
Did you know we eat tree bark? This lesson explores the different parts of plants and discovers where our food comes from. Includes reading a humorous story and a categorizing game. For kids K-2.

The Illinois Prairie
This lesson for K-2 is aimed at understanding native plants that once grew in abundance in Illinois. We discuss about the different types of prairies, their locations, and how rain affects the types. Kids will explore some individual plants that make up the prairie and learn how Native Americans used them. Each child receives a prairie plant seed to take home and grow.

Butterfly Gardens
This program is aimed at 1-4 grades. With a PowerPoint presentation, we watch the life cycle of a butterfly and explore flowers that are nectar and host plants. We read a book about the butterflies and plant seeds to start a butterfly garden at home.

Scheduling a Master Gardener Speaker
University of Illinois Extension is pleased to present these horticultural programs to educate your group. To request a program for your Kane County organization, please contact Program Coordinator Sarah Fellerer at 630-584-6166 or

Requests should be made four weeks in advance in order to coordinate our volunteers’ schedules.

Due to reductions in government funding for University of Illinois Extension, a fee for our Speaker’s Bureau programs is now necessary.

  • Groups of 25 or larger: $100
  • Groups of less than 25: $75
  • School presentations: $15 per class

Local Events & Resources

Master Gardener Idea Garden

Come see inspirational garden ideas in person at the popular Master Gardener Idea Garden in St. Charles. The 2019 Idea Garden features unique combinations of flowers, natives, herbs and vegetables in several creative designs that are easy to replicate.

Blog: Over the Garden Fence

Horticulture Educator Richard Hentschel provides professional insight to help you grow.

'Tis the Season to Start Composting

This fall, trade in your piles of yard bags for a process that pays you back in great soil for your yard and garden – composting.

Podcast: Green Side Up

Host Richard Hentschel explores timely topics in horticulture with this Illinois Extension podcast.