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?
We're still here to help you grow! The Kendall County Master Gardener Help Desk is available via email at this time.
Please send a detailed message with your question, and a volunteer will get back to you. Please see the tips below to guide your submission. We look forward to helping you!
General Help Desk Submission Tips:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- In addition to your question, please include as much additional information as possible:
- This could include planting date, age of plant, chemicals used, number of plants affected, where found, patterns, when symptoms were first noticed, etc.
- Please check your photos before submitting them. Are they clear and in-focus?
- When possible, please include a size reference in your photos (such as a pen, ruler, or a coin).
- For plant identifications, please include photos of the whole plant AND close-ups of plant parts.
- Parts may include leaves, flowers, roots, fruit, seeds, etc.
- Send a maximum of 10 images per sample/question.
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
The 2021 Master Gardener training program for residents of Kane and Kendall counties is currently under development. Due to a variety of factors, we are in the process of exploring new opportunities and reassessing the training format options. We hope to have details available sometime this spring.
Master Gardener training includes core topics, such as botany, soils and fertilizers, vegetables, woody ornamentals, fruits, insects and disease diagnosis, pesticide safety and perennials. The training fee includes a copy of the award-winning University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Manual.
An informational meeting will be held in mid-summer 2021. Click here to receive notification when the informational meeting is scheduled, then watch your email for an invitation in June. Interested volunteers fill out an application, complete an interview process, and background checks are required.
You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to qualify; having an interest in volunteering, a desire to learn new things, and the ability to share that newfound knowledge is all it takes. In Kane and Kendall counties, Master Gardener volunteers staff the Master Gardener Help Desk, answering residents’ garden and landscape questions via phone, email, or during in-person office hours. Master Gardeners also reach into the communities with service projects in partnership with local organizations.
The Master Gardener training includes 60 hours of horticultural training in a wide variety of topics. In return, trainees are required to volunteer 60 hours to the program. Staffing the Master Gardener Help Desk is required for the first 30 hours. The Help Desk is open to the public Monday through Friday during the growing season.
University of Illinois Extension is pleased to present these horticultural programs to your Kendall County group. To request a program please fill out a request form.
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.
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 clothing, tools, and methods.
Busting Garden Myths
There are so many recommendations and suggestions for gardening and plant care out there, but which are fact and which are fiction? A Master Gardener will walk you through some of the most common garden and plant myths give recommendations for better plant care.
Just what is beekeeping all about? What does it take to become a beekeeper? Led by Master Gardener, Hillard Bryant, this workshop will explore the biology of bees, beekeeping benefits and how humans can help honeybee populations. Find out what you need to get started in this exciting hobby.
Garden History in England and Wales
View scenes of historic gardens in northern England and Wales in a PowerPoint presentation of an educational tour in 2016. Learn about the designs of landscape planners such as Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton. This is a rich man's sport; don't expect to see cottage gardens.
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.
Starting your own seedlings for the garden is a great way to save money and grow varieties of flowers, vegetables and other plants not usually found in stores or garden centers. A University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener will present tips on starting your own plants from seed, including soil preparation, container selection, lighting options and troubleshooting.
University of Illinois Extension is pleased to present these horticultural programs to your Kendall County group. To request a program please complete this form.
Requests should be made four weeks in advance in order to coordinate our volunteers’ schedules.
Groups of 25 or larger: $75
Groups of less than 25: $50
Local News, Events & Resources
Save the date: 2021 Master Gardener Plant Sale
Blog: Over the Garden Fence