Contact Us

Judith Hodge
Program Coordinator
University of Illinois Extension
205 Cadillac Court
Unit 3
Belvidere, IL 61008-1733
Phone: 815-544-3710
FAX: 815-544-4606

Boone County Master Gardeners

Boone County Master Gardeners

Master Gardener Program

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is "Helping Others Learn to Grow." Master Gardeners involve people in improving the quality of life by helping them find sound management practices for home and urban natural resources, by creating aesthetically pleasing environments, by promoting well-being through people-plant interactions and horticultural therapy, and by contributing to a safe, abundant food supply through home fruit and vegetable production.

The objectives of the Master Gardener program are to:

  • Expand the capacity of the University of Illinois Extension Service to distribute horticultural information to individuals and groups in local communities
  • Develop and enhance community programs related to horticulture. These programs are educational in nature and may involve environmental improvements, horticultural therapy projects, community and school gardening projects, or other programs determined by local need.
  • Develop the leadership potential of Master Gardener volunteers through a volunteer administrative network designed to assist Extension staff in managing local Master Gardener activities and programs.

Master Gardener Horticulture Help Desk

Volunteer Master Gardeners are available to answer your gardening questions at the Extension office. Call 815-544-3710 or email

April  - September    1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday

October -March On call – Call 815-544-3710 and a Master Gardener will return your call.

Collecting Plant Samples

Bring in or email ( photos of the plant. Be sure to include the surrounding environment.

If possible bring in the entire plant if appropriate, especially if it is a vegetable, annual or perennial flower.

Woody plant samples should be as large as practical. Collect samples from areas that are still alive and showing symptoms.

Do not collect dead plants. Often their tissues have been invaded by other fungi and bacteria and the original pathogen is no longer detectable.

Collect several plant specimens showing a range of symptoms. Collect both healthy and damaged plant parts.

Provide as much background and related information as possible. Make note of flooding, shade, environmental changes, pesticides used and fertilizer history. Watch for any observable patterns or uniformity.

It may be necessary to wait until the plant blooms for a botanical identification.

After collecting samples, do not expose them to direct sunlight. Keep them cool and do not allow them to dry out. Weeds tend to wilt quickly, consider placing them between two pieces of moist paper towel and bring them in as soon as possible.