The University of Illinois Extension will offer Master Gardener training online as an option for those who would like to take the Master Gardener course, but due to work schedules or travel concerns, are unable to attend one of the face-to-face training programs. The online option may not be offered in every county, so check with your local extension office to be sure that it is offered in the county in which you live. The 2013 class is held from mid-January through early May, coinciding with spring semester on the U of I campus.
Registration for the online training program must be completed by December 7, 2012.
Download the documents you require below to begin the application process.
Applicants for this course MUST have at least some previous computer experience and feel comfortable with navigating the Internet and using email as well as basic programs such as Microsoft Word. Please DO NOT sign up for this course if you are a computer novice! Students will need to have access to a computer for extended periods (i.e. don't count on an Extension office or public library computer for working on the course). Computer specifications may be found on the "System Requirements" document. You must have a MINIMUM of 256 bandwidth, and DSL or better Internet connection in order to view the lessons on this course- no exceptions. Please keep in mind that if these specifications are not met- the course may be hard to access and download time is slow- leading to student frustration. Please make sure that proper computer specifications and internet access are taken care of before registering for this class.
The first week of the course all enrollees will participate in an online orientation session about the Master Gardener program and U of I Extension, as well as an introduction to Illinois Compass, the computer program that is the framework of the on-line course. The 11 major course units will include Botany, Soils, Plant Diseases, Entomology, Integrated Pest Management, Herbaceous Ornamentals, Woody Ornamentals, Lawns, Small and Tree Fruits, Vegetables and Landscaping. Each unit will include a reading assignment from the manual, a taped web presentation to view, external links to visit, a homework assignment and a quiz. The course also includes an obligatory discussion board tool for communication between participants and with the instructor. Participants may work at their own pace but should be aware that the course has specific deadlines for completion of homework and quizzes. Students should plan on spending between 8-10 hours per week on the course. No extensions on quizzes or tests will be granted without prior approval of the instructor.
Those interested in taking the online course as a Master Gardener should apply through their local University of Illinois Extension Unit Office, following the same initial procedures as face-to-face Master Gardener applicants — filling out an application form and screening documents, and completing an interview. Applicants must receive approval from their local Unit Director and/or Master Gardener program coordinator Jill Selinger at the Chicago Botanic Garden to take the training as a Master Gardener. Master Gardener candidates must serve their volunteer hours to the unit in which they register and are accepted into the class.
(You will fill out a Master Gardener Online Training Form upon completing your interview and receiving approval from your Master Gardener program coordinator.)
Non-volunteer / Personal Study Applicants
Those applicants choosing the non-volunteer /personal study option may take the online course as well. Indicate on the Master Gardener Online Registration Form that you are taking the course as: Non-Volunteer/ personal study option. Return your online registration form, screening documents, and fee to Master Gardener program coordinator Jill Selinger at the Chicago Botanic Garden for forwarding to the state office. You cannot change your mind later and decide to become a Master Gardener if you choose this option.
The training fee to become a Master Gardener volunteer is $250 and the fee for the non-volunteer option is $300, payable to the University of Illinois. This training fee includes either a print or CD-ROM copy of the Master Gardener manual. You must select one or the other version of the manual when you register. Registered participants will receive their manual(s) and additional class materials and course password — along with information about accessing the course for the first time — prior to the start of the course.
General questions about the course itself may be directed to the Master Gardener State Coordinator, Monica David at (217) 265-5256, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via postal mail at 1201 S. Dorner Drive, Urbana, IL, 61801.
Questions on applying to the course may be directed to Master Gardener program coordinator Jill Selinger at (847) 835-6849 or via email at email@example.com.
Mail completed application(s) and screening documents to:
Manager, Continuing Education
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022