The Master Gardener program is an all-volunteer organization sanctioned by the land-grant institution in each state and functions as an extension of the college or university. In Illinois, this program is sponsored by University of Illinois.
Master Gardeners are adults of all ages who love gardening and who have previous gardening experience. You can become a Master Gardener if
- you have some knowledge or experience in gardening or landscape management
(you need not be an expert)
- you are willing to learn share horticulture information with others, and
- you are accepted into a local training program and can volunteer time conducting
horticultural educational programming coordinated through your local Extension unit.
University of Illinois Extension appreciates the trained Master Gardener volunteers who help meet the constant demand for horticultural information by citizens of our state. There are currently more than 3,500 Master Gardener volunteers in Illinois.
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 a sincere desire to learn and share horticulture information within your community
- Be able to communicate effectively
- Be willing to devote time to volunteering and continuing education
What Does the Training Involve?
Training sessions are typically offered one day a week over a three-month period and are led by expert educators in the region. Approximately 60 hours of classroom instruction and field study and 60 hours of volunteer internship work are required to complete the program and become certified. In order to remain a certified Master Gardener, 30 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of continuing education or advanced training are required each year.
Example Master Gardener Volunteer Opportunities
- 4-H/County fair booth or judge
- Advisory Committee
- ART Inc. Lettuce Share Romain Community Garden
- Church Gardens & Activities
- Community/Gift/Urban Farm Food Gardens
- Farmers Markets
- Garden Walk work
- Garden/Bee Club work
- Gardeners' BIG Day work
- Hospital/Care Facility
- Illinois Central College Gardens & Events
- Informational booths: farmers markets, Peoria Home Show
- Jubilee State Park butterfly garden
- Juvenile Detention Center of Peoria County Gardening Project
- Luthy Botanical Gardens.
- Mason County Junior Master Gardeners, Havana
- Media and Blogs
- MG Training Support
- Peoria Clean Water Celebration
- Plant Bingo
- Plant Sale
- Pollinator Event work
- Public/City Gardens
- Speakers Bureau, educational presentations to community groups
- Wildlife Prairie Park
- Youth/School Gardens and Projects
GivePulse - illinois.givepulse.com
- Watch a training recording on how to navigate the new hours reporting site: Givepulse
- Review the PDF slides of the training
- Read through the Givepulse FAQ document
Reimbursement guidelines for Extension Master Gardeners serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties.
Master Gardener Apparel can be ordered anytime at www.sportsworldfire.com/31-gardener
For those wanting to become a Master Gardener volunteer, the University of Illinois requires each applicant to complete an application, background screening paperwork and schedule an interview with Extension staff. The fee to participate is $300 and covers classroom sessions, handouts, and the Master Gardener manual.
Upon completion of the Master Gardener training, graduates who have selected the volunteer option will become Master Gardener Interns and have 2 years to complete 60 volunteer service hours to become an Active Master Gardener.
To continue as an Active Master Gardener, volunteers must fulfill 30 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours annually.
For more information about the education only option contact Tara Heath firstname.lastname@example.org
Fulton and Mason County Master Gardener Meetings
3rd Tuesday at 6 p.m., location varies. If you have questions please contact Bob Keene.
Peoria County Master Gardener Meetings
3rd Wednesday, social time 12:30 p.m., program at 1 p.m., membership meeting at 2 p.m. If you have questions please contact Kathy McLaughlin.
Public is welcome to join us for the educational program.
Location is typically the University of Illinois Extension office in Peoria.
Tazewell County Master Gardener Meetings
4th Monday at (5:30 pm social) 6:00 pm - March through November. If you have any questions please contact Bill Baker or Janine Donahue.
Location is typically the University of Illinois Extension office in Pekin.