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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.

Love Gardening? Become a Master Gardener!

Posted by Candice Hart - Programs

U of I Extension is recruiting garden lovers to join their organization! With more volunteers, your local Master Gardeners could grow their community impact even more.

What exactly is a Master Gardener you may ask? The Master Gardener program, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, provides training for adult volunteers who help disseminate up-to-date, research-based horticulture information to home gardeners.

Training consists of programs offered one day a week over a four-month period starting in January. Sessions are led by University of Illinois Extension Educators and other horticultural experts. An online option if also available and a total of 66 hours of instruction is required in the program.

This year training will be offered in DeKalb and Jo Daviess counties for our northwestern Illinois gardeners. Interested? Contact Bethany at the DeKalb county office at 815-758-8194 or Maggie at the Jo Daviess county office at 815-858-2273. More information can also be found on the following two flyers:


DeKalb County Program Coordinator, Bethany Macarus, interviewed Master Gardener, Janice Weber, who says, "More volunteers means more helping hands and would be a source of more ideas that can lead to the development of new or more extensive projects of value to the community."

According to Weber, Master Gardeners serve our community in a variety of ways. "We provide information about gardening and horticulture to the community by answering questions and through our programs. We foster an interest in these subjects by reaching out to others. We also beautify the community."

Weber has been a Master Gardener for more than ten years. She had various reasons for becoming a Master Gardener. "I wanted to broaden my knowledge of gardening and horticulture. It sounded very appealing to receive classroom training from University of Illinois instructors." Weber explained her motivation by saying, "I pursued this right after I retired as a way of getting involved in a community activity, where I could also meet new people."

Master Gardening offers many different avenues to serve the community. Weber has a unique role as the DeKalb County Master Gardener newsletter editor. "I regard [the newsletter] as a primary communication tool for the Master Gardeners to promote interest in their projects and for the Coordinator to keep us informed of happenings at the program level. The enthusiasm we generate [through the newsletter] acts as a 'glue' which serves to keep the members interested and involved, by keeping them informed."

Master Gardeners don't only learn a lot about gardening, there are other benefits to becoming a Master Gardener. "I entered the program enthusiastic about learning, but am happiest about my experiences with the wonderful people I have met," says Weber. "Our group comes with diverse backgrounds. Careers or lack of careers, professional achievements, or levels of education are of no consequence when you are with people sharing their excitement about new compost or about the temperature of the soil in the spring. Our common love of gardening is a great leveler."

So, why should you become a Master Gardener? Weber says, "Everyone can benefit from the Master Gardener Training. The Training is the gateway to a wonderful range of projects that appeal to all interests. Not only is there hands-on, seasonal work in the soil, but there is behind the scenes planning that goes on all year long with wonderful people with common goals, who share a love of growing things."

To become a Master Gardener, contact your local county extension office to start the application process. Applicants must complete the application process by December 14, 2012.

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