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Environmental educator will connect east-central Illinois with natural resources

staff photo of Karla Griesbaum

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Whether you’re battling invasive species on your property, starting to compost at home, or trying to reduce fertilizers on the farm, doing the right thing for the environment isn’t always clear. The University of Illinois Extension team of natural resource experts connects communities around the state with research-based resources and best practices because small changes at the local level can have a big impact on the environment.

In December, University of Illinois Extension appointed Karla Griesbaum as the natural resources, environment, and energy educator for Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion counties. She will drive environmental education and outreach efforts, focusing on crucial areas such as land stewardship, climate change mitigation, restoration, and volunteer engagement through the Master Naturalist program.

“We are delighted to welcome Griesbaum to our team,” said County Director Ginger Boas. “Her experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm for environmental education make her a perfect fit for this role. We are confident that she will play a vital role in empowering communities to make informed decisions and take action to protect our environment.”

Griesbaum brings a wealth of expertise and passion to this role and has demonstrated a deep commitment to community engagement and environmental stewardship. Her expertise spans microecology, plant-microbe relationships, soil ecology, conservation, regenerative agriculture, symbiotic relationships, and resource sustainability. She is particularly passionate about connecting both children and adults with nature.

"In joining the Extension team, I feel I get to combine so many of my greatest interests: Nature, education, public service, people, and community,” she shared. “I love sharing the natural world and its secrets with others while implementing and teaching ways to protect and rebuild it. I look forward to collaborating with the rest of the Extension team to reach the biggest and most diverse audience with our programs.”

Griesbaum has a bachelor's degree in natural resources and environmental science and a master's in plant biology from University of Illinois, with additional experience in curriculum development.  Before joining Illinois Extension, Griesbaum was a conservation planner for the Department of Agriculture, implementing conservation strategies and government programs for local landowners. She has also volunteered with the Land Conservation Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and a local public school district.

More information about Illinois Extension serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion counties can be found at

Sources: Ginger Boas, County Extension Director,; Karla Griesbaum, Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Educator,

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.