Extension Master Gardener

Becoming an Extension Master Gardener is a goal of many people. In addition to the excellent horticulture education, Master Gardeners enjoy the volunteer opportunities and making new friendships and connections through their Master Gardener experiences. Applications are being accepted for the new Master Gardener training being held in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. The training begins April 2. Application deadline is March 20, 2020. Submitted photo

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener training is being offered in the spring. Training begins April 2 and is held one day a week until May 28. All sessions are held on Thursdays, and all classes run 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Training includes both classroom lectures and outdoor activities, with a special focus on hands-on skills building in the latter part of the course.  For more information and to begin the registration process, visit https://go.illinois.edu/MGtrainingFMPT.

Master Gardeners learn how to improve home landscapes, grow their own food, care for household plants and manage pests. The nine-week training program teaches all about fruits and vegetables, trees and flowers, plant disease, botany, insects, turfgrass and soils.  Classes are taught by University of Illinois Educators and Specialists at various locations, including the Peoria and Tazewell County Extension offices, Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria, and Illinois Central College.

Volunteer Option

For those wanting to become a Master Gardener volunteer, the University of Illinois requires each applicant to complete an application, background screening paperwork and schedule an interview with Extension staff. The fee to participate is $250 and covers classroom sessions, handouts and the Master Gardener manual. Upon completion of the Master Gardener training, graduates who have selected the volunteer option will become Master Gardener Interns and have two years to complete 60 volunteer service hours to become an Active Master Gardener. To continue as an Active Master Gardener, volunteers must fulfill 30 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours annually.   

Education Only Option

For individuals who only want to attend Master Gardener training for their personal or professional enrichment, but do not want to volunteer, the fee is $250, covering classroom sessions, handouts and the Master Gardener manual. The education-only participants will need to register for the class and speak with the program coordinator, but no further application is required.

Examples of volunteer activities include Luthy Botanical Garden in Peoria County, The Giving Garden in Tazewell County, Junior Master Gardener leadership in Mason County, and Jones Park in Fulton County. Master Gardeners also provide education through the Gardening Helpline, the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau, at the Peoria Riverfront Farmers Market informational booth, during Tazewell County’s Plant Bingo event, at the Gardeners’ Big Day event in Fulton County, at community gardens throughout the region, and much more.

Applications, screening paperwork, interview schedules, and course fee must be received by March 20. Registrations for non-volunteers are also due by March 20. Space is limited. Begin the application process at https://go.illinois.edu/MGtrainingFMPT.

For more information about University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, contact University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program Coordinator Ian Goslin at ianmg@illinois.edu or 309-347-6614.