Illinois Extension program offers online gardening training starting Jan. 29

URBANA — For 48 years, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners have measured success by gardens planted, insects identified, produce harvested, and the millions of hours volunteers have logged by helping others learn to grow.

Take your love of gardening to the next level in 2024 by joining an online training course. Whether you’re interested in the Master Gardener certification process and continuing on to volunteer in your community, or you’re simply interested in bettering your own gardening knowledge, Illinois Gardener Training is for you.

Online training is again being offered starting Jan. 29, 2024. This self-guided course is for Illinois residents and can be taken from the comfort of home on a desktop, laptop, or tablet.

“Our online training is a great opportunity for folks who need more flexibility to participate,” said State Master Gardener Specialist Candice Anderson. “It is a self-paced program that can be completed at any time.”

The training includes videos, a manual, reading materials, and quizzes. The course can be completed in 14 weeks with four hours of weekly work. A strong internet connection is highly recommended.

This course is aimed at exposing participants to in-depth horticulture content through 13 modules including soils and fertilizers, plant diseases, entomology, pest management organic gardening and more. For more information, visit

The course costs $300 and registration is open until Jan. 10, 2024. Local fees may also apply. For more information, contact your local Illinois Extension Office at Not all counties are offering the online training option.

After finishing training, participants have the option to put their newfound gardening knowledge to use by applying to become an Illinois Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. To become a Master Gardener, you must fill out and submit an application by contacting your local county Extension office. After the local coordinator reviews the application, applicants will be asked for an interview. Acceptance of trainees will be based on an established need for local Master Gardener volunteer activities. Please note that different counties have different periods for accepting applications and applying does not guarantee acceptance, as some units receive more applications than spaces available for training.

Master Gardener volunteers participate in education programs in their communities. Those opportunities may include speaking at garden clubs, civic groups, or schools; answering calls or emails at garden help desks; establishing demonstration gardens that serve as educational tools; and educating citizens on how to establish community gardens.