Master Gardener Program

In light of COVID-19 concerns, the Chicago Botanic Garden has canceled the 2021 training. We will post any updates as soon as possible. For information about training at other locations, contact your local county Extension office or the University of Illinois Extension.

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is "Helping others learn to grow." As defined by the University of Illinois Extension Service, master gardeners are volunteers trained by University of Illinois Extension educators to provide a network of gardening programs and horticultural activities to educate the public and enhance life in their communities. The volunteer service they provide is vital to the Chicago Botanic Garden and to the community.

In conjunction with the University of Illinois Extension Service, the Garden offers the Master Gardener Training Program, a ten-week on-site training program. It covers the basics of horticulture, including classes on woody and herbaceous ornamental plant materials, fruit and vegetable crops, entomology, and pathology. A fee is charged for the training and includes a training manual.

Training consists of daytime classes once a week for ten weeks. Upon successful completion of the core training and passing the final exam, participants will then become master gardener interns. An intern must fulfill a 60-hour volunteer commitment in order to become a certified University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener.

Applying to the program

There are no prerequisites other than some knowledge or experience in gardening or land management (expertise is not required) and a willingness to learn about horticulture, and to share that knowledge with others. Participants must also commit to fulfilling the volunteer component of the program. Applicants are asked for a preferred volunteer area. Interviews with staff representatives ensure a good match of qualifications and schedule to a volunteer area.

To learn more about the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, visit the university's master gardener website at:

To learn more about Chicago Botanic Garden volunteer opportunities, click here.