Responsibilities of Volunteers

Program Guidelines

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.

Illinois Master Gardener responsibilities include:

  • Represent the University of Illinois in a professional manner.
  • Accept only volunteer job assignments that you can realistically complete.
  • Become acquainted with local Extension unit office procedures and personnel.
  • Respect client confidences and information.
  • Remain calm and courteous at all times.
  • Follow Master Gardener program rules and directives.
  • Know the limitations of your horticultural knowledge and expertise.
  • Gain the knowledge and become familiar with the resources necessary to accomplish assigned tasks.
  • Follow through on commitments.
  • Provide unbiased, research-based information from the University of Illinois, other land-grant universities, the United States Department of Agriculture, or other Illinois Extension approved sources.
  • Follow published University of Illinois recommendations.
  • Refer commercial calls to the appropriate extension educator or specialist.
  • Use tact and give constructive advice.

Guidance for Approved Volunteers

The title "University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener" and "Master Gardener" are to be used only and exclusively in the Master Gardener program in which the trained and certified Master Gardeners conduct educational programs and answer gardening questions to assist University of Illinois Extension. When an individual ceases to actively participate, their designation as a Master Gardener becomes void.

A Master Gardener should not display credentials or give the appearance of being a Master Gardener at a place of business unless that place is conducting an authorized Master Gardener activity. It is improper to imply that the University of Illinois Extension endorses any product or place of business. Master Gardeners must not use their title in any form of advertisement.

When experienced Master Gardeners make public presentations, it is permissible for them to accept unsolicited gifts or be reimbursed for legitimate expenses (such as travel) incurred in conducting the class. It is inappropriate to seek pay for personal gain for speaking engagements conducted as a Master Gardener. Such fees or honoraria should be turned over to the local Master Gardener unit.

Master Gardeners should follow published University of Illinois Extension recommendations and manufacturers labels when making suggestions that include the use of chemicals. Questions concerning commercial production of crops and pest control are most appropriately referred to an Extension staff specialist.