New horticulture expert grows Southern Illinois community outreach

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, Christina Lueking joined Illinois Extension as a horticulture educator serving Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington Counties. She will create and lead research-based outreach programs on home gardening, culinary herb production, cut flower production, and a variety of other gardening topics in Southern Illinois and as part of the Extension’s statewide team of horticulture experts.

“We are very excited to have Christina moving into the role of an educator to complete our local team of topic experts,” says County Director Jordee Koehler. “She will be able to collaborate with community members, professional growers, and area leaders to help meet their unique needs.”

Lueking comes to Extension after working as an agricultural and natural resources program coordinator where she supported educational opportunities for the community.

“I look forward to the opportunity to inspire and empower our local businesses and community members to learn more about the diversity of horticulture crops and the comfort that plants and insects can bring to the local landscape as we interact with the growing process,” she says.

As an Extension educator, Lueking will continue that work by providing training and continuing education opportunities, seasonal events, and organizing community outreach programs for the volunteers involved in the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs.

Lueking says the need for sustainable landscape systems continues to grow as communities and urban landscapes develop.

“The need for research-based information on sustainable practices and production yields will be critical for the future of horticultural crops and the economic value that they bring to our local environments and communities,” she says.

Lueking received her Bachelor of Animal Science Production from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and earned her Master’s in Horticulture specializing in herb production on a green roof infrastructure.

Lueking is a member of the Illinois Extension Agricultural Association, Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Illinois Specialty Growers Association, Jefferson County Farm Bureau, and is a Jefferson County 4-H alumni.

Lueking is based in the Marion County Extension office in Salem and can be reached at or (618) 548-1446.

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.