Are you searching for a unique gift for a friend who just retired? Would you rather be in your garden than anywhere else? The University of Illinois Extension Office will offer Master Gardener Training Classes in 2021 with a hybrid program that will accommodate COVID policies.

Master Gardeners are volunteers who have a love of gardening and a passion to share it with others. The program focuses on learning for the love of learning. This stress-free approach, opportunity to meet fellow gardeners and share knowledge with the community is exactly what makes the Master Gardener program so popular.

Hybrid training will begin in February. In this flipped classroom-style training, trainees have at least 4 hours of independent study to do prior to the weekly session. During Tuesday sessions, trainees participate in a live presentation presented by Extension Educators. Then trainees discuss case studies and complete hands-on activities. Some classes may take place via zoom depending on COVID. Classes start in mid-February and run thru April. Field trips are planned to community gardens and local greenhouses. The hybrid class fee is $200 and limited to a select number of students. Options will be available for those with internet and technology limitations.

Seats are reserved upon receipt of payment and registration forms which include a background check. The class price is based on a commitment to volunteer 60 hours within 2 years. Partial financial assistance is available for need-based applicants. An extensive manual developed by University of Illinois educators for gardeners in Illinois is included in the class price.

During the training, attendees learn about gardening from University of Illinois educators and other horticulture specialists in a way that is both interesting and practical to the home gardener. The classes are geared for all levels- from beginners to more experienced gardeners. Each session covers a different garden related topic such as Fruits, Plant Diseases, Insects, Flowers, Vegetables, Trees, Shrubs etc.

One of the most rewarding parts about being a Master Gardeners comes from the friendships made with fellow gardeners and making a difference in your community. Master Gardeners volunteer at a variety of different community garden projects. They grow vegetables for the local food pantry, work with veterans and children. They hold a Garden Day Workshop each March, garden programs each month, have a speaker’s bureau and plant sale in May. Clearly no matter where your talents lie there is something for everyone!

For more information please contact Jenney Hanrahan at the Vermilion County Extension office in Danville at 217-442-8615 or visit our website at https://go.illinois.edu/ApplyVermilion.

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