Master Gardener program offers online training

URBANA, Ill. — For nearly five decades, Illinois Master Gardeners have measured success by gardens planted, insects identified, produce harvested, and the millions of hours volunteers have logged by helping others learn to grow.

From farms and small-town to suburbs and the inner city, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners around the state volunteer by providing gardening education in their communities. Grow with us by signing up for the Online Master Gardener Training Program starting June 1.

“Our online training is a great opportunity for folks that wouldn’t normally be able to take our face-to-face training,” said State Master Gardener Specialist Candice Hart. “It allows more flexibility in completing training.”

This online, self-guided course for Illinois residents can be taken from the comfort of home at your own pace and includes videos, reading materials, and quizzes.

“With our Extension offices closed for the time being, we’re sending interested participants through the non-volunteer option of the course,” says Hart.

Becoming an Extension Master Gardener volunteer involves filling out an application and additional paperwork, as well as an interview with local county Extension staff before being approved as a potential volunteer, which are more difficult to complete at this time. With the non-volunteer option, participants can still complete the online training and then reach out to their local Extension office upon completion of the course to see about applying to become a Master Gardener volunteer.

This course is aimed at exposing participants to in-depth horticulture content modules including growing Vegetables, Fruits, Trees and Shrubs, Landscaping, Organic Gardening and so much more. For more information on the course, visit

Registration is open until May 15 and the class will be available starting June 1. The course costs $300. To sign up, visit Enter the approval code “#NvGARDEN” and complete the registration. The training is designed to be viewed on a desktop, laptop, or tablet, and a strong internet connection is highly recommended.

“Helping Others Learn to Grow" is the mission of the Illinois Master Gardener program. After receiving training, volunteers participate in education programs in their communities. Those opportunities may include speaking at garden clubs, civic groups, or schools; answering calls or emails at garden help desks; establishing demonstration gardens that serve as educational tools; and educating citizens on how to establish community gardens.

This year marks the 48th anniversary of the Illinois Master Gardener program. With more than 2,600 volunteers today, Illinois Master Gardeners have given more than 2,309,348 volunteer hours, a value of over $46 million, to the state. Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of all of Illinois' 102 counties and far beyond.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact Candice Hart. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your needs.

SourceCandice Hart, State Master Gardener Specialist, Illinois Extension
News Writer: Emily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension