If you enjoy learning about gardening and like to share your gardening knowledge, the Master Gardener program may be for you. All you need is an interest in gardening, an open mind, and a willingness to share your knowledge with others. The role of the Master Gardeners is to share unbiased, reliable, research-based information with home landscapers and gardeners. Another important function is to encourage young people to enjoy the pleasures of flower and vegetable growing.
Master Gardener volunteers work on behalf of and under the supervision of University of Illinois Extension. Volunteers are required to report to their local Master Gardener coordinator about all planned activities prior to conducting the program. While most volunteer work is conducted in the local Extension unit, some projects involve interagency interaction with parks and recreation departments, nursing homes, school gardening projects or other city agencies. One project that is currently underway is the Cultivating Care Donation Garden in Marion!
Become a Master Gardener
The Illinois Master Gardener program is coordinated by University of Illinois Extension, with consultation from local program partners.
When is the next training?
This fall, Illinois Master Gardener training is available through two online options – self-paced or hybrid with live sessions.
The self-paced course starts September 27 and runs through December 31. The course costs $300 and registration is open August 9 until September 13.
The hybrid course starts September 14 and runs through November 30. The hybrid training includes 12 weeks of online materials and live sessions on Tuesday mornings. The live sessions can be accessed remotely or in person at a local Extension office. Registration is open locally until September 7.
Why become a Master Gardener?
The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is "Helping Others Learn to Grow." Master Gardeners involve people in improving the 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 horticultural therapy, and by contributing to a safe, abundant food supply through home fruit and vegetable production.
What qualifications must I meet?
Anyone can become a Master Gardener - it does not require a degree or years of experience. You do, however, need to:
- have some knowledge or experience in gardening or landscape management (you need not be an expert)
- be willing to learn about horticulture and share this knowledge with others
- be willing to volunteer time conducting horticulture education programming coordinated through your local Extension unit
What is the program fee?
The Illinois Master Gardener course fee is $200 for the hybrid course (the online option is $300).
This fee for the hybrid course covers:
- 12-week training, including over 60 hours of classroom instruction and field learning.
- Assistance in finding a volunteer position that fits your personal interests, abilities, and time restraints for as long as you remain a Certified Master Gardener.
- Continuing-education events and opportunities.
After an application is received and accepted, you will be notified of your payment options.
To become a Master Gardener:
1. Complete an application and submit it to your local U of I Extension office.
2. Attend an informal interview.
3. Pay program fee, covering online instruction and Master Gardener manual.
4. Complete the training.
5. Complete the 60-hour volunteer internship.
6. Continue to volunteer 30 hours each year and attend 10 hours of continuing education programs.