1438 W. 10th Street Metropolis IL 62960
Erin Garrett is a Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Extension Educator for University of Illinois Extension in the southernmost five counties in Illinois - Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski and Union. In this role, Erin develops and delivers high impact programming to local and statewide audiences to help them develop an appreciation for natural resources and to empower them to make small changes to positively impact the environment.
Erin's environmental stewardship programming focuses on why homeowners should consider choosing native plants, how to support native pollinators, how to identify grasses, how to identify and manage invasive species, and developing an appreciation for prairie ecosystems. She is an expert in grass identification and offers a Grasses at a Glance blog and short video series. Erin serves as the lead for the NREE team's webinar series called Everyday Environment, which won the Gold Award in its category of Outstanding Educational Materials from the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals.
Additionally, Erin serves as the local coordinator for the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs in her five counties, providing training and volunteer leadership. She has been instrumental in acquiring funding, installing, and managing two food donation gardens, the Plant a Row, Watch COPE Grow Food Donation Garden in Metropolis and The Pilot Garden: Cairo's Food Donation Garden in Cairo. Since 2018, the gardens have produced over 4,700 pounds of produce, all of which has been donated to local food pantries.
Erin earned her Master's degree in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University in 2017, where her research focused on the interactions of an invasive legume with native forbs, grasses, and legumes. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from the College of Saint Benedict in 2015. She served as a board member for the Southern Chapter of the Illinois Native Plant Society from 2017-2021.
Prior to her time with Extension, Erin worked as a Conservation Education Representative at the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center for Illinois Department of Natural Resources and worked three consecutive summers as a Grassland Restoration/Monitoring Technician for The Nature Conservancy.