Master Gardener

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.


Green Connections Unit Wide Meetings 2024

Core Education Schedule October 2024

Core Education Registration October 2024

Green Connections Newsletter

Speakers Bureau Request

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists are available to provide educational presentations at your request

Our Speakers Bureau provides a variety of garden and nature-inspired topics, free of charge (except when noted for workshop materials). 

Ask a Gardening Question

Master Gardener Plant Detectives and Extension staff are armed and ready to "Help Others Learn to Grow."
Or call one of our local offices to have staff send in your question for you.

Describe your question, location, and, if able, include photos of the plant or situation you are asking about.

Include your name, contact information, and if you prefer to be contacted by phone or email.

Allow 3 to 5 business days for volunteers to complete the research and response. 

Steps for Joining

For those wanting to become a Master Gardener volunteer, 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 $250 and covers classroom sessions, handouts, and the Master Gardener manual.

2024 Horticulture Core Education, Oct 7 - 11, 2024

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 40 volunteer service hours to become an Active Master Gardener.

To continue as an Active Master Gardener, volunteers must fulfill 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours annually.   

Illinois Professional Development hours for Illinois teachers may be available for the 60 hours of training, through the Council on Teacher Education. 

For more information about the education only option contact Tara Heath

Meeting Schedule

Extension Master Gardeners host a monthly meeting that includes an educational program. The programs are always open to the public and free. Visit our Events page for the most current meeting details. 

Fulton and Mason County Master Gardener Meetings

2nd Tuesday, social time 5:30 p.m., program begins at 6 p.m.

The meeting location varies. 

Peoria County Master Gardener Meetings

3rd Wednesday, social time 1 p.m., program at 1:30 p.m., membership meeting at 2:30 p.m. 

Location is typically the University of Illinois Extension office in Peoria.

Tazewell County Master Gardener Meetings

4th Monday,  social time 5:30 p.m., program at 6 p.m. - March through November. 

Location is typically the University of Illinois Extension office in Pekin.


About Our Program

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 40 hours of volunteer internship work are required to complete the program and become certified. In order to remain a certified Master Gardener, 20 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of continuing education or advanced training are required each year.

Example Master Gardener Volunteer Opportunities

  • Youth programs such as 4-H Show judge or superintendent or 4-H gardening Special Interest club
  • Informational booths: farmers markets, community events, health fairs, county fairs
  • Community gardens: Morton Library native garden, WIC vegetable garden, Wildlife Prairie Park butterfly habitat, Illinois Central College
  • Ask a Gardening Question helpline
  • Write educational articles: nature magazines, blogs, news papers
  • Educational programs: Speakers Bureau, Clean Water Celebration, Farm Safety Day


GivePulse - 

Master Gardener Brochure

Illinois Master Gardener website


Master Gardener Apparel can be ordered anytime at