Master Naturalist Training- OGLE CO., Spring 2020

University of Illinois Extension invites adults of all ages to join them for the 2020 Illinois Master Naturalist training.  The classes will be held in Ogle County on Monday evenings from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., starting March 16 and ending May 18, 2020.  The training features instructors from local natural resource agencies and organizations as well as state Extension experts.  The training will highlight our rich natural heritage by hosting classes in different locations in the area such as Nachusa Grasslands and Kickapoo Mud Creek Nature Conservancy.

As a Master Naturalist, you will learn about ecosystems and interrelationships of plants and animals that make up our natural world.  You will also learn how to assist with land management and to share your knowledge with others in your community.  The goal is to encourage participants to seek out lifelong learning opportunities to further their development as a naturalist.

Master Naturalist participants agree to serve 60 hours of volunteer service within the first two years of their initial classroom experience.  Volunteers can then continue their certification with 30 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours annually.  Volunteer opportunities in your county are extremely flexible and tailored to fit your personal interests, abilities, and time restraints.

For more information and to apply to become a certified Illinois Master Naturalist for Boone County, please visit or call Judy Hodge, Extension Program Coordinator at 815-544-3710 or email at

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact your local Extension office. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.

Farm Legacy Seminars- February 2020

The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) and COUNTRY Financial are partnering to host three farm legacy seminars in February of 2020. The informational meetings will provide information and questions that are essential to legacy planning, in order to allow farmers to keep their farm in the family.

Seventy percent of U.S. farmland is anticipated to change hands during the next two decades, with estimates as high as half of American farmers operating without an estate plan. Illinois farm families face a series of issues, including rising costs in agriculture and surviving financial stress year to year, that may pull their focus away from planning for the future of the farm. This meeting series will help realign that focus by sharing resources and knowledge that farm families may use when having family conversations about farm legacy preservation.

Each meeting will include a free dinner and a keynote presentation by Dr. Ron Hanson, Harlan Agribusiness Professor Emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and expert on farm legacy planning. Hanson has been a recipient of 31 university and national awards throughout his 46-year agribusiness teaching and student-advising career. Following Dr. Hanson’s talk, farm legacy planning information will be provided by a COUNTRY Financial Planning Support Specialist.

Meetings are set to take place in northern, central and southern Illinois. The 2-hour seminars will each begin at 5:30 p.m. with dinner. Doors open for registration at 5:00 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:

•                      Feb. 25 — Hickory Grove Banquet and Conference Center, Rochelle
•                      Feb. 26 — I-Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign
•                      Feb. 27 — Kokopelli Golf Club, Marion

Registration opens January 1, 2020, however you can direct families to sign up for additional information and reminders at

U of I Extension to Offer Intro to Fruit Tree Pruning Class- December 12

University of Illinois Extension Local Foods and Small Farms Educator Grant McCarty, will teach Intro to Fruit Tree Pruning on Thursday, December 12, 2019.  The class will be from 5:30-7:30pm at the Boone County Extension Meeting Room located at 205 Cadillac Ct. Suite 5 in Belvidere.  Registration cost for this program is $5 and pre-registration is required Tuesday, December 10.  To register or for more information on this program, visit us online at or call us at 815-544-3710.

You may have inherited property that has a number of mature apple trees.  You may also have ignored and neglected your apple trees for a number of years.  Whichever category you fall into, it is not too late to get your trees on the path towards productive yields.

This course will go into the decisions you need to make when it comes to getting mature apple trees back in shape over the next couple of years.  Topics to be covered include when to let go of the trees, basics of seasonal/older pruning, disease/insect management, choices of tools, making the first cuts of a multi-year process, apple tree grafting options, and working through visual examples of trees that have been neglected.  McCarty will also discuss pruning cherry, peach and pear trees.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the Boone County Extension office at 815-544-3710.  Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time meeting your access needs.

Certified Food Protection Manager Course- December 3 & December 6

We still have open spots in the December 3 and 6th Certified Food Protection Manager Course, this course meets the eight-hour coursework and examination required by the state of Illinois, which is required every 5 years. Class is held at the Ogle County Extension office, 421 W. Pines Rd, Oregon. Program fee is $125, which includes purchase of the manual, examination, educational materials, and lunch for both days. The course is taught by Marilyn Csernus, MS, RD, University of Illinois Extension, Nutrition & Wellness Educator.

If you are on the cusp of your certification expiring, you will not want to miss this local opportunity, future dates not available at this time. To register visit our website at or 421 W. Pines Rd, Oregon.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact 421 W. Pines Rd. Suite 10, Oregon, IL Extension office. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.

Beef Quality Assurance workshops scheduled for December

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) sessions will be held throughout Illinois in December. These sessions serve as the beef industry’s best source of continuing education and will provide producers with up-to-date standards and technologies to improve animal welfare and beef quality.

Meeting dates and locations include:
December 3 – 6 p.m., DeKalb County Farm Bureau, DeKalb
December 4 – 6 p.m., Fairview Sale Barn, Fairview
December 5 – 6 p.m., Reel Livestock Center, Congerville
December 11 – 6 p.m., Arthur Sale Barn, Arthur
December 12 – 6 p.m., Greenville Livestock Auction, Greenville
December 17 – 6 p.m., United Producers Inc., Salem

“The Illinois BQA program is a proven education system that teaches sensible management practices that help improve the quality and safety of beef,” said Travis Meteer, University of Illinois Extension beef specialist and state BQA coordinator. “It clearly demonstrates how a producer’s actions on the farm have a huge impact on the final beef product.”

Beef Quality Assurance is a voluntary, national program that hopes to raise consumer confidence through offering proper management education and guidelines for the beef industry.

BQA trainings are free to Illinois Beef Association (IBA) members and a $20 fee for non-IBA members includes the cost of a meal and training materials. Pre-registration is encouraged. Attendees should RSVP to the IBA at 217-787-4280.

University of Illinois Master Gardener Program Accepting Online Applicants- November 11- January 6

For the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, the last four decades can be measured by the millions of volunteer hours given to help bring horticultural help to communities across the state.

This year marks the 49th anniversary of the Illinois Master Gardener program. With over 3,000 members today, Illinois Master Gardeners have given more than 2,309,348 volunteer hours, a value of over $46 million, to the state.

Today, Master Gardener volunteers—who come from farms, small towns, suburbs, and cities—offer numerous educational opportunities related to gardening in nearly every county in the state.

The mission of the Illinois Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” After 60 hours of training in topics such as vegetable and flower gardening, insect problems, and plant diseases, the volunteers participate in programs throughout their communities. Some of those opportunities may include speaking at garden clubs, civic groups, or schools; answering calls or emails at garden help desks; establishing demonstration gardens that serve as educational tools; and educating citizens on how to establish community gardens.

You don’t have to be a gardening expert to become a Master Gardener. All you need is an interest in gardening, some time to volunteer in the community, and a desire to share your knowledge with others. The program is more about connections; connecting people with other gardeners, with their community, and with reliable resources for information. Once connections are forged, it’s time to get sowing and growing in our many meaningful community projects.

University of Illinois Extension is now accepting applications to participate in the Online Master Gardener Training Program. This online program allows volunteers to complete the training who may have never been able to in the past due to schedule or time conflicts. This online, self-guided course for Illinois residents can be completed anytime of day or night. Set aside about 4 hours per week for videos, reading manual and completing quizzes and the training will be completed in 14 weeks.

The 2019 Master Gardener Online Training includes 13 modules - an introduction and 12 subject-areas. Module topics include: Botany; Soils and Fertilizers; Plant Diseases; Entomology; Integrated Pest Management; Annuals and Perennials; Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines; Lawns; Small and Tree Fruits; Vegetables; Composting/Organic Gardening; and Living with Wildlife.

Each module consists of several videos and an online quiz; therefore, a strong internet connection is highly recommended.

Registration for the winter class will be open from November 11- January 6 and the class will start on January 20. If you are interested, connect with Judy Hodge at the Boone County Extension office at 815-544-3710 or for more information or to receive an application form. 

 Go to to read more about the program.