Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners are volunteers who have received over 60 hours of training from Extension Educators and State Specialists from the University of Illinois.  They receive training in order 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.

The Master Gardener program is an all-volunteer program sanctioned by the land grant institution in each state and functions as an extension of the college or university. In Illinois, the program is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

Become a Master Gardener

To become a Master Gardener, you should have a strong desire to learn more about horticulture and a willingness to promote gardening education. The program provides an opportunity to learn, work, and share experiences with like-minded individuals. Previous horticulture experience and a college degree are not required.

Hybrid training is held from September through November on odd number years. Hybrid training includes 5 hours of online learning and 3 hours of classroom learning. Classroom sessions are held Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Extension office. The next training will be offered in fall 2023.

Online training is offered three times a year. It is a self-paced training. Sessions begin in January, June, and September.

Please contact Sarah Ruth for additional information at or 618-939-3434.


Master Gardener Applications (PDF) may be submitted at any time.

Please email the application or print it and mail it to your Extension office. If a training session is in progress, the application will be kept on file for the following year's training. Each applicant is required to go through an informal interview. Class size is limited.

Call your Extension office if you would like a paper copy mailed to you.


The hybrid training cost is $250. The online training cost is $350.

This includes the Master Gardener manual and additional training materials. In return for the training, Master Gardener trainees give back at least 60 hours of volunteer time to their home counties on approved Extension projects.

*Participants may be eligible for fee waivers, please contact us for details.


Once trainees have graduated, they are asked to complete 60 hours of volunteer time in their home county on approved volunteer projects. After the 60 hours are completed, volunteers are considered an active Master Gardener. Volunteer opportunities vary by county.


Master Gardener & Master Naturalist Training Scholarship Program

University of Illinois Extension is providing scholarships for the Master Gardener & Master Naturalist Training program sponsored by St. Clair County Extension & Education Foundation, Madison County Extension Education Foundation, and the Monroe County Extension & 4-H Education Foundation. Approved candidates will receive scholarship money following completion of the training and passing of the University of Illinois Extension volunteer background checks. One scholarship will be available for each county per year. Application must be submitted by August 16, 2023.


Candidates must be a resident of Madison, Monroe, or St. Clair Counties.

Candidates must be at least 19 years of age.

Scholarship Applications

Access scholarship applications for the Master Gardener & Master Naturalist Training program.

Madison County Scholarship

Monroe County Scholarship

St. Clair County Scholarship

Master Gardener Newsletters

Check out the monthly newsletter for Master Gardeners.

January 2023

February 2023

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023