Rhonda J. Ferree - U of I Extension

Extension Professional Staff

Rhonda J. Ferree
Extension Educator, Horticulture

Rhonda J. Ferree

Fulton/Mason/Peoria/Tazewell Unit
127 S High St, Ste 1
Havana, IL 62644-1496
Phone: 309-543-3308

Expert in: herbaceous ornamentals, woody ornamentals, turfgrass, weeds, houseplants

Rhonda Ferree provides leadership and expertise in horticulture programs for both the home gardener and commercial horticulturist with emphasis in the area of landscape horticulture. She trains and assists in coordinating the Unit's Master Gardener program.

Ferree graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor's degree (high honors) in ornamental horticulture and a master's degree in horticulture. She joined Extension as a specialist in pesticide safety education on the Champaign-Urbana campus, where she served for 10 years before joining the Fulton County Extension staff as a horticulture and crops educator. Ferree later served as county director in Fulton County and as associate regional director in the West Central Region office in Springfield, IL. She is presently a horticulture educator with University of Illinois Extension serving the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit.

Rhonda has won numerous Extension awards for her innovative programming and exceptional media work, including the College of ACES Professional Staff Award for Excellence; University of Illinois Extension Excellence Awards for Units, Individual and Teams; the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award; and the National Epsilon Sigma Phi Mid-Level Career Award.

Ferree's professional affiliations include the Illinois Extension Agricultural Association, National Association of County Agricultural Agents, Gardener Writers Association, and Epsilon Sigma Phi.

Check out her ILRiverHort social media pages at:

Program Offerings

Rhonda currently offers the following programs. All groups requesting talks should have a minimum audience of 10 people. Requests need to be made at least 6 weeks in advance. Donations are greatly appreciated and helps support all the work we do for local communities. Donations run $50 to $150 depending on how much the organization can afford. Additional mileage may be charged for locations outside Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. All checks should be made payable to University of Illinois.

Naughty, Nasty, and Simply Annoying Plants. Nasty plants can be found everywhere, including indoors. Whether they sting, poke, irritate skin, or have other poisonous tendencies, some plants need special care when handling. Learn how to use and live among these plants safely. Plants covered include poison ivy, nettles, snakeroot, and more. (new in 2016)

Weedy Vines. Poison ivy, oriental bittersweet, and trumpet creeper are just a few of the many vine weeds can be quite aggressive and especially difficult to manage. This session provides tips for identifying and managing common weedy vines in your home garden and landscape. (new in 2016)

Edible Landscaping. By combining fruit and nut trees, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers or berry bushes in aesthetically pleasing ways, edible landscapes can be just as attractive as ornamental ones. Learn how to eat your yard by creating a tasteful home landscape using edible plants. (new in 2016)

The Edible Indoor Garden. Gardening is not limited to outside in the summer. The Edible Indoor Garden shows you how to grow your own fresh herbs, salad greens, and more any time of the year.

Energy Efficient Landscaping Sustainable and energy efficient landscapes are common buzzwords in today’s gardening circles and can be overwhelming to the novice gardener. Learn tips for how your landscape can help keep your energy costs down and make your yard more environmentally friendly.

Landscaping for Wildlife. Whether they fly, flutter, scoot or scurry, wildlife adds an extra element of excitement to our landscape, especially in winter. Discover uncomplicated and undemanding ways to develop an attractive landscape that birds, butterflies, and other wildlife will appreciate along with you.

Create a Shady Garden Respite. Rhonda covers both the art and science of gardening in the shade. She’ll discuss how to garden in the shade and give a variety of plant options beyond the usual hosta and fern. You’ll also learn other elements that are needed to round out a relaxing space that connects you with nature.

Tea Gardens. The tradition of making and taking tea in the garden is steeped garden history. Today tea gardens also provide enchanting outdoor spaces that are soothing, productive, sustainable, and lovely to visit. This session covers several types of tea gardens and the tea garden design components that make these great spaces to enjoy tea. Various plants used to make tea will also be covered. 

How to Have Healthy Houseplants. Houseplants add life and beauty to a home. Learn simple tips to select and care for houseplants. After this program, even those with “brown garden thumbs” will know how to have healthy houseplants throughout their home. (Also available: Houseplant Propagation)

Top Ten Turf Tips. Lawns are an important part of most home landscapes. The secret to a lush, green lawn is proper lawn care practices. This session provides tips for establishing and maintaining the yard of your dreams.

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