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Emilia Arellano
Extension Program Coordinator
University of Illinois Extension
1114 N. Arlington Heights Road
Suite 201
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Phone: 847-201-4176
FAX: 847-201-4175

Cook North Suburban Master Gardeners

Cook North Suburban Master Gardeners

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What is a Master Gardener?

Extension Master Gardener programs educate people, engaging them in learning to use unbiased, research-based horticulture and gardening practices through a network of trained volunteers directed and supported by land-grant university faculty and staff. This is our National Mission statement.

The North Suburban Cook County Master Gardener Program serves the suburban Cook County area north of Roosevelt Road.  Master Gardeners are required to do their volunteering in the unit that they train with. There are affiliated but separate units in Chicago and in South Suburban Cook County that serve those areas.

The Master Gardener (MG) adult volunteer program is a nationwide program, and is supported by the land-grant university in each state. Master Gardeners are a vital link to getting research-based horticultural information to the public through University of Illinois Extension offices. Delivering horticultural education is what we’re all about. Master Gardeners have no products or services to sell, so they can provide unbiased, research-based information from the University of Illinois to the public. We serve youth and adults of all ages and backgrounds through our public programming. Much of our programming is free or low cost and we typically bring hands-on and educational programs to community groups of all sorts. The University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Upon completion of a Master Gardener’s training/internship, MGs are required to volunteer a minimum of 30 hours each year (at least 15 of them must involve interacting with the public to share horticulture-based knowledge) and complete 10 hours of approved continuing education annually.


Master Gardener Youth Program Offerings - Cook North Suburban Program Request

University of Illinois Extension provides presenters that will engage students in hands-on learning experiences. If you would like to request a program for your Cook County North or Northwest organization, please complete this form indicating your program preferences and preferred dates. All groups requesting programs should have a minimum audience of 15 people. Requests need to be made at least 6 weeks in advance in order to coordinate our staff and volunteers' schedules.

We request a cost recovery fee of $50 for each program in order to cover educational materials for hands-on activities, handouts and travel expenses.  We are willing to work with you based on your available funding.  If your organization includes the word "donation" on the memo line of the check, we are able to receive partial matching funds. We greatly appreciate your support and will provide a W-9 and tax exempt letter.   Payments may be mailed to the attention of Emilia Arellano at U of I Extension, 1114 N Arlington Heights Road, Suite 201, Arlington Heights, IL 60004. Thank you.

Master Gardener Speakers Bureau - Cook North Suburban Program Request

University of Illinois Extension provides speakers on a wide range of gardening topics through our Cook North Suburban Master Gardener program listed below. If you would like to request a program for your Cook County North or Northwest organization, please complete this form indicating your program preferences. All groups requesting talks should have a minimum audience of 15 people. Requests need to be made at least 6 weeks in advance in order to coordinate our volunteer' schedules. Donations are greatly appreciated. Donations run $50 to $150 depending on how much the organization can afford. Young organizations just getting started for instance are subsidized by more established and well financed ones. That way we can serve everyone. Please make out your check to University of Illinois Extension.


Ask a Master Gardener

Friendship Park Conservatory, 395 Algonquin Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016; Phone (847) 298-3502 or email (Available April 1- October 31, Monday and Wednesday,  9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and Saturdays 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

Due to reduction of calls that come into the Master Gardener desk during the winter months (November 1 - March 31), Master Gardeners are available to answer calls on Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Arlington Heights Branch Office, 1114 N. Arlington Heights Road, Suite 201,  Arlington Heights, IL 60004; Phone (847) 201-4176 ext. 14 or email (Available April 1- October 31, Fridays, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

Cook County Farm Bureau, 6438 Joliet Road, Countryside, IL; Phone (708) 354-3276 or email (Available April 11- November 14, Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Due to reduction of calls that come into the Master Gardener desk during the winter monthsthe Cook County Farm Bureau desk will be closed between November 15 - April 11.

For more information contact us at:

University of Illinois Extension North Suburban Cook Office

1114 N. Arlington Heights Road, Suite 201

Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Tel: 847-201-4176

Fax: 847-201-4175


Our next training in North Suburban Cook will occur in the fall of 2018 (with hopes of an online training by 2018).

If you would like our office to keep your email and name on record for our next training announcement, please e-mail our program coordinator Emilia Arellano or call our Arlington Heights office (847) 201-4176.

The next training sessions will be held at Chicago in winter 2017/18. Please be aware that you are committed to serving all volunteer hours in the area you train in.

Contact Tasha Reggans at or 773-233-2900 if you have questions about the Chicago Master Gardener program.

For more information regarding Chicago Botanic Gardens, please contact Jill Selinger at 847-835-6849 for more information.

Currently, there is not an online training option being offered. 

2016 Master Gardener Training

The North Suburban Cook County unit offered Master Gardener training during the fall of 2016. The training was an in-person/face-to-face classroom training with limited hands-on opportunities. The MG training was held on eleven consecutive Tuesdays from 9:00 to 4:00, September 6 through November 22, 2016.  Classes were held at the Friendship Park Conservatory, Oak Park Conservatory, Thatcher Woods Pavillion, Evanston Ecology Center, Spring Valley Nature Center, Camp Reinberg and Skokie Talking Farm. You had to be available for all twelve sessions to participate in this training.

Course Content

Master Gardener training consists of 60 hours of instruction on botany, soils, fertilizers, turf, vegetables, season extension, tree and small fruits, plant pathology and diseases, pruning, insects, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and pesticide safety, woody plants, perennials, annuals and natives. The sessions are taught by University of Illinois specialists and Extension horticulture educators. The emphasis of the course content is practical and research-driven. There are weekly quizzes as well as an open-book final comprehensive exam on which students must achieve 80% or better.

Master Gardener Internship/Volunteer Component

Upon completion of the 60 hours of classroom/hands-on training, Master Gardener trainees become Master Gardener interns and are required to volunteer at least 60 hours within the North Suburban Cook County unit within two years, including six 3-hour shifts at the Friendship Park Master Gardener Answer Desk answering questions presented by the public in person, online and over the phone. Upon completing and recording 60 hours of volunteer time, MG Interns will become a certified Master Gardener. As a volunteer, you are required to undergo all university-required background checks. Volunteers are responsible for recording their volunteer hours along with the demographics of their audience. Volunteering may include staffing MG information booths at community events, Farmer’s Markets and Forest Preserve District of Cook County events, presenting programs to community groups, providing technical assistance and training for community or school gardens, providing watershed or worm-composting demonstrations, as well as other horticultural information-sharing activities.


The cost of the 2016 in-person North Suburban Cook County Master Gardener training will be $300.00. The fee includes the Master Gardener Manual, Pest Management for the Home Landscape, supplemental handouts, administrative travel expenses, room rental, educational supplies, certificates, class refreshments, a MG Trainee name badge, and a permanent certified MG name badge upon completion of your internship.

Reasonable Accommodations

If you need reasonable accommodations to participate in this program or for more information, please contact Emilia Arellano at or call 847-201-4176.