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Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson staff photo
Horticulture Educator

104 N Westgate Ave Jacksonville IL 62650

(217) 243-7424
Program Areas

Ken Johnson is the Horticulture Educator serving Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, and Scott Counties. His educational efforts focus on fruit and vegetable production, pest management, and beneficial insects. Through his programming efforts, he aims to increase backyard food production and foster a greater appreciation of insects. He is one of the authors of the Good Growing Blog and one of the Good Growing Podcast hosts.

Ken received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Illinois College in 2006. He earned his doctorate in Plant Medicine (DPM) as well as a certificate in Plant Pest Risk Assessment and Management from the University of Florida in 2012. While at the University of Florida, he received a National Needs Fellowship and worked at IPM Florida. There he assisted in maintaining their website and in the production of extension material on integrated pest management (IPM). He also worked at the Plant Medicine Program’s Clinical Trials, where he assisted in conducting experiments testing different chemicals for plant disease and insect management. 

He has also worked at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as an entomology intern in their hydroponic greenhouses at the Land Pavilion at Epcot. While there, he was responsible for rearing and maintaining insect colonies, releasing beneficial insects and predatory mites into the greenhouses, and assisted with pest monitoring and greenhouse IPM programs.

Ken is a member of the Illinois Extension Agricultural Association (IEAA), the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA), and the Entomological Society of America (ESA).

Presentations Available Online

What’s That Bug? How to Identify Insects - Have you ever spotted an insect and wondered what type of insect it was? Insects are all around us and play important roles in our ecosystems. Explore how to identify different groups of insects commonly found in Illinois.

Plants Personalities Defined: Non-Native, Invasive and Aggressive - What’s in a name? We often hear terms like non-native, invasive, and aggressive used interchangeably — but they mean different things and can become confusing or problematic when used in the wrong context. Discover the differences between these commonly confused terms and learn how to use them properly.

Organic Gardening - Learn about what organic gardening is and how you can implement organic practices in your own vegetable garden. 

Spiders are Your Friends - Spiders are some of the most misunderstood animals around. While a few may be harmful, the vast majority pose no threat to us and are beneficial. This presentation dispels some of the misconceptions surrounding spiders and covers some commonly encountered spiders in Illinois.

Tomato Problems - Tomatoes are one of the most popular and commonly grown plants in home gardens. Learn about common problems that plague tomatoes as well as ways to address them.

Good Bugs in the Garden - Not all insects we find in our gardens are pests. In fact, most insects aren’t pests at all. Explore some of the most common beneficial insects and ways to attract them to your garden.

Illinois Native Pollinators - When it comes to pollination, honey bees get a majority of the attention. However, many insects play a role in pollination. Learn about different native pollinators and how to make your landscape attractive to them.

Gardening 101 - Gardening can be a fun and rewarding activity. If you are starting your first garden or just need a refresher, learn the basics of gardening from where to place your garden, how to prepare and lay it out, and plant selection.

Living with Japanese Beetles - Japanese beetles are one of the most destructive ornamental pests found in Illinois, and unfortunately, they’re here to stay. Learn more about Japanese beetles, as well as ways you can manage them in your landscape.

Cultivating Carnivores: Growing Carnivorous Plants - Learn about why carnivorous plants have evolved to ‘eat’ meat, the different ways carnivorous plants go about capturing their prey, as well as their unique care requirements.

Fall Gardening - Gardening doesn't have to end when the calendar turns to fall. Learn about the crops that can be grown as well as other garden and yard activities to do in the fall


National Association of County Agricultural Agents:

  • Communications Award, National Winner - Website/Online Content - Good Growing Blog (2023)
  • Communications Award, Regional Winner - Published Photo, Wasp emerging from coneflower stalk (2023)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Computer Generated Presentation with Script, Unique Plants for the Holidays (2023) 
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Educational Video Recording, Good Growing Podcast - Some invasive plants in Illinois and their management (2023)
  • Search for Excellence in Consumer or Commercial Horticulture, State Winner, Good Growing (2023)
  • Communications Award, Regional Winner - Audio Recording - Extension Update (2022)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Educational Video Recording, Dividing and Planting Bearded Iris (2022)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Personal Column, Good Growing (2022)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Published Photo, Wasp parasitizing aphid (2022)
  • Communications Award, National Finalist - Educational Video Recording, Growing Garlic (2021)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Published Photo, "Pink Spotted Lady Beetle on Strawberry Flower" (2021)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Audio Recording, "Extension Update - National Pollinator Week" (2021)
  • Achievement Award (2020)
  • Communications Award, National Finalist - Publication, Help Save Our Pollinators (2019)
  • Communications Award, National Winner - Program Promotional Piece, Beginning Beekeeping (2018)
  • Communications Award, State Winner - Fact Sheet, Illinois Bees (2018)
  • Communications Award, National Finalist - Team Newsletter, Gardener’s Corner (2016)
  • Search for Excellence in Consumer or Commercial Horticulture, State Winner, The Good, the Bad and the Lovely Plants Webinar Series (2016)

Illinois Extension Agricultural Association: Action Award (2018)

University of Illinois Extension