Chicago Botanic Garden
In conjunction with the University of Illinois Extension Service, the Garden offers the Master Gardener Training Program, a 10-week program that begins in mid-January and is offered every other year, with the next program scheduled for 2011. It covers the basics of horticulture, including classes on woody and herbaceous ornamental plant materials, fruit and vegetable crops, entomology and pathology. A fee is charged for the training and includes a training manual.
Training consists of daytime classes once a week for 10 weeks. Attendance for all 10 classes is mandatory. Upon successful completion of the core training and passing the final exam, participants will then become Master Gardener Interns. An intern must fulfill a 60-hour volunteer commitment in order to become a certified University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener.
Forest Preserve District
For the second year the Forest Preserve District of Cook County has partnered with the University of Illinois Extension Service and Lake Katherine Nature Preserve to present the Illinois Master Naturalist Program. Naturalists from the District’s education staff conducted classes in mammology, ornithology, botany, forest ecology, wetland and grassland habitats, and interpretive skills.
Classes are led by regional scientists and educators. Sessions will be offered one day a week over a 12-week period, for a total of about forty hours of instruction, plus some field trips. Attendance is vital for all trainings and field trips. Forty hours of volunteer service are required for completion of Master Naturalist Certification.