This year marks the 48th anniversary of the Illinois Master Gardener program. With more than 2,600 members today, Illinois Master Gardeners have given more than 2,309,348 volunteer hours — a value of over $46 million, to the state. Today, Master Gardener volunteers — who come from farms, small towns, suburbs and cities — offer numerous educational opportunities related to gardening in nearly every county in the state.
The mission of the Illinois Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” After 60 hours of training in topics such as vegetable and flower gardening, insect problems, and plant diseases, the volunteers participate in programs throughout their communities. Some of those opportunities may include speaking at garden clubs, civic groups or schools; answering calls or emails at help desks; establishing demonstration gardens that serve as educational tools; and educating citizens on how to establish community gardens. You don’t have to be a gardening expert to become a Master Gardener. All you need is an interest in gardening, some time to volunteer in the community, and a desire to share your knowledge with others.
The University of Illinois Extension in Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties is now accepting applications to participate in the Online Master Gardener Training Program. This online program allows volunteers to complete the training who may have never been able to in the past due to schedule or time conflicts. This online, self-guided course for Illinois residents can be completed any time of day or night. Set aside about four hours per week for videos, reading the manual and completing quizzes, and the training will be completed in 14 weeks. A strong internet connection is highly recommended. The registration cost for the program is $300, which includes the Master Gardener manual.
Registration for the summer 2020 class is open now through May 25, and the class will start on June 15. Contact the Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, Putnam Extension Unit for more information or to obtain materials to begin the registration process by emailing Meg E. Overocker, Extension program coordinator, at [email protected] You may also leave a message with your contact information at the University of Illinois Extension office at 815-224-0889.
For more about the program, visit https://master-gardener.extension.illinois.edu/mgot.