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Master Gardener program offers online training options

Green plants in degradable pots sitting in the soil ready to be planted.

URBANA, Ill. — For 48 years, University of Illinois Extension 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 towns to suburbs and the inner city, more than 2,600 volunteers statewide put their mission of helping others learn to grow into practice by providing gardening education and outreach in their communities. Take your love of gardening to the next level by becoming a Master Gardener in 2023.

This year, there are two online training options – self-paced or hybrid with live sessions.

“Our online training is a great opportunity for folks who need more flexibility to participate,” says Extension State Master Gardener Specialist Candice Anderson. “Both options have self-paced components that can be completed at your own pace.”

Both training options may be taken from the comfort of home on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. Participants will be introduced to in-depth horticulture content through 13 modules, including soils and fertilizers, plant diseases, entomology, pest management, organic gardening, and more. The training includes videos, a manual, reading materials, and quizzes. A strong internet connection is highly recommended.

After completing the training, volunteers participate in educational 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.

The self-paced course starts October 2 and can be completed in 14 weeks with approximately four to six hours of weekly work. The course costs $300, and registration is open until September 11.

The hybrid course starts September 12 and includes 12 weeks of hybrid online materials and in-person sessions on Tuesday mornings. The live sessions may be accessed remotely or in person at an Extension office, depending on the local requirements. Registration is open until September 1. The cost is set by the county providing the training.

Both Master Gardener training programs are coordinated by Extension staff at the county level. Training options, dates, and availability may vary by county. For more information or to fill out an application form, contact your local Illinois Extension Office at

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact Candice Anderson at 217-935-5764 or by email at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting participant needs. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting participant needs.

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.