The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener programs in Livingston, McLean and Woodford counties are now accepting applications for the spring 2021 online training program. This self-guided course can be completed any time of day or night. Participants will need to dedicate about four hours per week for videos, reading materials and completing quizzes. The training lasts 14 weeks. When able, local horticulture educators will provide hands-on learning materials for registrants.

Registration for the fall class will be open through January 8. Training begins January 25. If you are interested, contact your local Extension office at (309) 663-8306 or by email at uie-lmw@illinois.edu for more information or to receive an application.

The 2021 online training includes 13 modules consisting of videos and an online quiz; a strong internet connection is highly recommended.

Topics include botany; soils and fertilizers; plant diseases; entomology; integrated pest management; annuals and perennials; trees, shrubs and woody vines; lawns; small and tree fruits; vegetables; composting/organic gardening; and living with wildlife.

You don’t have to be a gardening expert to become a Master Gardener. All you need is an interest in gardening and a desire to share your knowledge with others.

The mission of the Illinois Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow”. After 60 hours of training, volunteers participate in programs throughout their communities, including establishing demonstration gardens that serve as educational tools; educating citizens on how to establish community gardens; speaking at garden clubs, civic groups or schools; or answering calls or emails at garden help desks.

Next year is the Master Gardener program’s 47th anniversary in Illinois. With over 2,600 volunteers, the Illinois Master Gardeners have given more than 2,309,348 volunteer hours to the state; a value of over $46 million.

Today, Master Gardener volunteers -- who come from farms, small towns, suburbs and cities -- provide garden education in nearly every county in the state.

Go to https://master-gardener.extension.illinois.edu/mgot to read more about the program.