Bureau, La Salle, Marshall, Putnam County Unit extensions have master gardener scholarships available

Online training begins Jan. 29; participants must sign up by Jan. 10

The Toluca Coal Mine Association welcomed Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists to their Fall Family Festival on Oct. 1.

There is still time to sign up for the online master gardener course.

The Bureau, La Salle, Marshall and Putnam County Unit extension office now has a limited number of scholarships available for this training.

Contact Bettyann Harrison, master gardener/master naturalist coordinator, at 309-364-2356 or bettyann@illinois.edu for scholarship and program information.

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.

Online training again is being offered starting Jan. 29. 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,” state Master Gardener specialist Candice Anderson said. “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.

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. 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 people on how to establish community gardens.

This course is aimed at exposing participants to in-depth horticulture content through 13 modules on topics such as soils and fertilizers, plant diseases, entomology, pest management, organic gardening and more.

For information, visit extension.illinois.edu/mg/become-master-gardener.

The course costs $300, and registration is open until Jan. 10. Local fees may apply. For information, contact your local Illinois Extension office online at go.illinois.edu/ExtensionOffice.