URBANA, Ill. – Whether you’re tending a few well-loved houseplants, responsible for your home or business’ landscape, or growing backyard fruits and vegetables, gardening is challenging. The University of Illinois Extension team of horticulture experts connects communities around the state with research-based resources and best practices to help everyone grow.

In August, Emily Swihart joined Illinois Extension as a horticulture educator serving Henry, Mercer, Rock Island, and Stark counties. She will create and lead research-based outreach programs on home gardening, forests and trees, and a variety of other gardening topics in northwestern Illinois and as part of the Extension’s statewide team of horticulture experts.

“We are very excited to have Emily joining us to complete our local team of topic experts,” says Illinois Extension County Director Jenny Garner. “She will be able to collaborate with community members, professional growers, and area leaders to help meet their unique needs.”

Swihart comes to Extension after working 11 years as program manager for the non-profit organization Trees Forever where she created and delivered continuing educational opportunities for volunteers, community leaders, and professionals.

As an Extension educator, Swihart will continue that work by creating programs focused on community forests, native ecosystems, and fruit and vegetable production in the home landscape.

“I’m excited to share my passion for horticulture and bring people and plants together by offering programs for people of all ages and experience levels,” says Swihart. “I’m looking forward to seeing community members apply new horticulture knowledge in a way that enhances their overall health and well-being.”

Swihart received a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Iowa State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Kansas State University. Her areas of expertise include urban forestry, native plant ecosystems, landscape design, conservation, and home landscape fruit and vegetables.

Swihart is based in the Rock Island County Extension office in Milan and can be reached at eswihart@illinois.edu or (309) 756-9978.

Extension educators and specialists connect every county in Illinois with university research through in-person and distance-learning programming and other educational outreach. They work to provide businesses, families, and agricultural producers with the practical tools and resources needed to solve problems.

WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

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.