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Margaret Burns Westmeyer
Program Coordinator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
4747 Lincoln Mall Drive
Suite 601
Matteson, IL 60443
Phone: 708-679-6889
FAX: 708-679-6855

Nancy Kreith
Extension Educator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
4747 Lincoln Mall Drive
Suite 601
Matteson, IL 60443
Phone: 708-679-6889
FAX: 708-679-6855

Cook South Suburban Master Gardeners

Cook South Suburban Master Gardeners

Master Gardener Volunteer Training and Certification Program

The next Master Gardener training for the south suburbs will take place in fall of 2020. For more information or to be added to the 2020 future training interest list please email Margaret Burns-Westmeyer, at or call (708) 679-6894.

Who We Are

The Cook South Suburban Master Gardener Program focuses primarily on serving the Cook County suburban area south of Roosevelt Road. Master Gardeners are required to complete their volunteer hours in the unit that they train with. There are affiliated but separate Master Gardener Programs for other parts of Cook County. These are in North Cook Suburban and Chicago units.

The Master Gardener (MG) adult volunteer program is nationwide. Master Gardeners are a vital link in getting horticulture information to the public through Illinois Extension offices. Education is what we're all about. With no products or services to sell, Master Gardeners can provide unbiased, research-driven information from the University of Illinois to the public.

Course Content

Master Gardeners participate in more than 60 hours of training on botany, soils, fertilizers, vegetables, tree and small fruits, turf, landscaping, weeds, diseases, insects, Integrated Pest Management, woody plants, perennials and annuals. The sessions are taught by Illinois Extension educators and are coordinated by your local county office. The emphasis of the information is practical, yet research driven. There are weekly quizzes as well as a final exam. Students must pass a final comprehensive exam by achieving 80% or better (open book).

Training Dates

Face to Face Training Program: To be held on one weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for eleven consecutive weeks. The format for this training will be in-person, classroom training with limited hands-on opportunities. You must be available for all eleven sessions to participate in the face-to-face training. The classes will be held at various locations in/around Cook County south suburbs. Locations may include but are not limited to:

Orland Park Cultural Center, Orland Park

Sand Ridge Nature Center, South Holland

Little Red Schoolhouse, Willow Springs

Training Schedule

Please check back for the exact training dates and locations.


2020 Face-to-Face Program projected cost: $350.00

The face-to-face training fee covers: Master Gardener training manual, Pest Management for the Home Landscape guide, supplemental handouts, administrative travel expenses, educational supplies for volunteer-led programs, certificates, class refreshments, temporary name badge, and official name badge upon graduation.

Volunteer Component

Master Gardeners give back at least 60 hours of volunteer time to the Cook South Suburban Master Gardener program within a year. After completing 60 hours of volunteer time you will become a Certified Master Gardener. As a volunteer, you are required to undergo all necessary background checks. Volunteers are responsible for recording their hours along with the demographics of their audience. Volunteering can take the form of answering questions from consumers at the "MG Help Desk" or working on special projects such as Speakers Bureau, hands-on classroom horticulture activities, leading school gardens, providing technical assistance for community gardens, worm composting demonstrations, insect petting zoo, and providing information at Farmer's Markets.

Our Public Audience

We aim to 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 programs to community groups and centers. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Reasonable Accommodations

If you need reasonable accommodations to participate in this program, please contact Nancy Kreith at or (708) 679-6889.

For more information e-mail Margaret Burns-Westmeyer, at or call (708) 679-6894.

In need of MG volunteer assistance?

In exchange for this challenging educational experience, Master Gardeners are required to volunteer 60 hours, primarily to share their new knowledge and skills with the community. Master Gardeners are a dedicated group, and many choose to return to volunteer sites year after year to share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners can provide guidance for school and community gardens, fulfill speaker requests, and answer home gardening questions. To request MG assistance, please contact Margaret Burns-Westmeyer (contact info above).

Volunteer Policy and Required Forms: