Serving Lake and McHenry Counties



What’s it all about…and

What’s in it for you!


A University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener is a volunteer who provides service to the community by assisting people with horticulture problems and teaching proper horticulture practices, using research based information.


Before the volunteer can provide that assistance, it is necessary to become educated about the problems and their solutions.  The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program provides this education.


Sponsored by University of Illinois, and implemented by Extension, the program is open to Illinois residents 18 years of age or older.


As a Trainee/Intern, you will receive approximately 60 hours of classroom training on a variety of horticulture topics including soils and composting, botany, entomology, pathology, turf, vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants.  Classes are taught by experts in these fields.  Sessions are held on a weekly basis, January through April, from 9:00am to 4:00pm, in the odd numbered years, in McHenry County.


In addition to the classroom training, you will have a chance to take field trips and attend other workshops and meetings to supplement the scheduled training every year.


The “Illinois Master Gardener Manual” is included in the approximately $305.00 training fee.  This Manual contains information used in the classroom training topics, and is a permanent source of reference material.  It is also available on CD-ROM for an extra fee.


In exchange for the training, as an intern, you will be asked to volunteer 60 hours of service to the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program.  In order to maintain your status as an Active Extension Master Gardener in future years, you will be expected to volunteer a minimum of 30 hours of service, and complete 10 hours of additional training, per year.


The types of volunteer work includes:

  • Handling phone calls and walk-ins to the Extension Office, from homeowners with horticultural problems.  *Interns are required to work a minimum of 4 shifts in the office.
  • Manning off site information tables at events, libraries, and other venues
  • Participating in design, construction, and maintenance of displays, exhibits, and demonstrations
  • Giving programs to community groups and organizations
  • Planning, organizing and attending programs such as Gardenfest and GardenWalk
  • Working with and promoting community gardens


Okay, you may say, this is all good stuff, but what’s in it for me beyond a lot of study and hours of volunteer work?

Read on….

  • Satisfaction of gaining practical knowledge about growing things
  • Privilege of learning from acknowledged experts in horticulture, entomology, and botany
  • Proficiency to advise and help others with their plant problems
  • Convenience of updates on seasonal problems before they happen…and how to treat them
  • Opportunities to associate with and make friends with others who share your interests
  • Participation in group educational and social activities:  field trips, garden visits, seminars, potlucks
  • Hands-on experience in planning, preparing, planting, cultivating and harvesting a public demonstration vegetable/flower/herb garden
  • Construction and care of composting sites
  • Knowledge to apply all of this expertise to the betterment of your own yard, trees, shrubs, and gardens


To enroll in the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program, you must fill out an application at the appropriate Extension Unit.  In McHenry County, the Extension Office is located at 1102 McConnell Rd., PO Box 1430, Woodstock, IL 60098, (815)338-3737.  Email questions to . Applications are due in August, of even numbered years.




University of Illinois U.S. Department of AgricultureLocal Extension Councils Cooperating

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in an Extension program, please contact our office.