New consumer horticulture specialist hired at Iowa State University Extension

Iowa State University Extension
Aaron Steil, a new consumer horticulture specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will work with county staff and provide gardening resources.

AMES, Iowa – Home gardeners and plant enthusiasts can still receive helpful advice and answers to their questions from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Aaron Steil, newly named consumer horticulture extension specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, is working on a new delivery method that will empower county extension staff to provide answers locally.

Steil began the new position in June, following the retirement of horticulture specialist Richard Jauron. Steil previously worked as assistant director at Reiman Gardens and taught a horticulture lab course for a decade.

“My hope is to really work to build up resources and trainings for county staff that gives them the information and confidence to answer the gardening questions that come to their county offices,” he said.

Gardening questions are among the most common reasons that people seek extension advice, according to Steil, and those interactions have the potential to develop into long-term relationships with extension and outreach.

A popular resource for county staff and gardeners is the Horticulture and Home Pest News website, which provides timely information about horticulture and yard and garden topics. The content is organized by category, with easy access to videos, frequently asked questions, a gardening encyclopedia and many other resources.

Steil said he plans to improve the availability of information provided online and will also be talking with county staff to learn more about their needs across the state. 

He also does outreach through “Gardening with Steil” on Iowa PBS and on Iowa Public Radio’s “Talk of Iowa,” which provides horticulture advice every Friday.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture and biology from Iowa State in 2005, and his master’s in public horticulture from the University of Delaware in 2007.

“I’ve always had this interest in working with gardening and people,” said Steil. “My role at Reiman Gardens allowed me to do that for many years and this new role will also allow me to work with gardening and people.”

Steil said one of the things he enjoys about gardening is how it changes. Each year leads to new ideas, new products and opportunity for improvement.

“No garden is ever perfect,” he said. “There is always something new to learn and there is always some new challenge to meet and hopefully learn from. I just think that whole process is a lot of fun.”

For more information, Steil can be reached at 515-294-8953 or ajsteil@iastate.edu.