Master Gardener Program offers new training options

DECATUR, Ill.— You don’t have to be a gardening expert to become a Master Gardener. All you need is an interest in gardening, a willingness to volunteer in the community, and a desire to share your knowledge with others. The program is about connections: connecting people with other gardeners, with their community, and with reliable resources for information. Once connections are forged, it’s time to get sowing and growing in our many meaningful community projects.

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” After training in topics such as vegetable and flower gardening, insect problems, and plant diseases, the volunteers participate in programs such as establishing food donation and demonstration gardens; educating citizens on how to establish community or youth gardens; answering calls or emails at garden help desks; and speaking at garden clubs, civic groups, or schools.

University of Illinois Extension DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties offers several ways to participate in Master Gardener training: online self-paced training, a hybrid ‘flipped classroom’ style, and an in-person training planned to resume in fall 2021. 

Participants can begin self-paced online training in January, May, or September. Each module consists of several videos and an online quiz; therefore, a strong internet connection is highly recommended. Set aside about 4 hours per week for videos, reading the manual, and completing quizzes, and the training can be complete. Registration for the winter class is open through January 8, and classes will begin January 25. 

A new, hybrid training offering a mixture of independent study and live, virtual training with educators begins in February. Coursework will be available online, and live classes will be held on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon and will include a short lecture, discussion, and activity. Registration is open now through February 12 for the hybrid training, and classes will begin February 16. 

For more information, connect with your local University of Illinois Extension Office program coordinator Julia Duncan in Macon County at 217-877-6042, or program coordinator Beth Miglin in DeWitt County at 217-935-5764 and Piatt County at 217-762-2191. Visit  to read more about the program.  

Source: Sarah Vogel, Horticulture Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Writer: Maria Lightner, Marketing & Communications, University of Illinois Extension


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