OTTAWA — For the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, the last four decades can be measured by the millions of volunteer hours given to help bring horticultural information to communities across the state.
This year marks the 44th anniversary of the program. With more than 3,000 members today, Illinois Master Gardeners have given more than 2,309,348 volunteer hours to the state, a value of more than $46 million.
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 opportunities may include speaking at garden clubs, civic groups or schools; answering calls or emails at help desks; establishing demonstration gardens to serve as educational tools; and educating citizens on establishing community gardens.
You don’t have to be a gardening expert to become a Master Gardener. All that’s needed is an interest in gardening, some time to volunteer in the community, and a desire to share your knowledge.
The program is more about connecting people with other gardeners, with their community, and with reliable resources. Once connections are forged, it’s time to get sowing and growing in the many meaningful community projects.
The U of I Extension in Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties is now accepting applications to the online Master Gardener training program. This allows volunteers who may have never been able to participate in the past to complete the training.
This online, self-guided course for Illinois residents can be completed any time of the day or night. If participants set aside about four hours per week to watch videos, read the manual and complete quizzes, the training will be completed in 14 weeks.
The 2019 summer Master Gardener online training includes 13 modules — an introduction and 12 subjects. Module 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.
Each module consists of several videos and an online quiz; therefore, a strong internet connection is highly recommended. Participants should note this training is not offered in local Extension offices, but must be completed through use of a personal computer or other computer access. The registration cost for the program is $300, which includes the Master Gardener manual.
Registration for the fall 2019 class will be open from Aug. 12 through Sept. 9. Class will start on Sept. 23. You may contact the Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, Putnam Extension Unit for more information or to obtain an application form from Meg E. Overocker, Extension program coordinator, University of Illinois Extension — LaSalle County Office, 1689 N. 31st Road, Suite 2, Ottawa, IL 61350; by calling 815-433-0707; or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following completion of the training, Master Gardener interns will work with Extension staff and local Master Gardeners in the Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam Unit area to complete required volunteer time through approved community service projects.
For more information, visit https://master-gardener.extension.illinois.edu/mgot.
If you need a reasonable accommodation, indicate when registering. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs. For more information, call the U of I Extension — LaSalle County at 815-433-0707. Extension offices are located in Princeton, Ottawa, Henry and in Oglesby on the IVCC campus.
The mission of University of Illinois Extension is to provide trustworthy education and information to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Visit their website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/blmp/.