Faculty Stories: Frank Balestri

Frank Balestri

Program: Horticulture


Frank Balestri’s interest in horticulture began in a garden and with butterflies.

“I started working in the vegetable garden with my father at a very young age,” he said. “Additionally, as a hobby, I collected and raised butterflies, and while learning their host and nectar plants, I started to develop a passion and appreciation of plants. Once I took my first botany class at my community college, I knew that I would pursue a career in horticulture.”

After earning his Associate in Science degree from Moraine Valley Community College, Balestri graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a focus in Horticulture and Landscape Management. He then earned his Master of Science in Horticulture from Iowa State University.

During college, Balestri worked at a nursery and on the grounds crew at The Morton Arboretum. Following graduate school, he was a collections specialist at the Chicago Botanic Garden and then accepted a full-time position as a plant health care technician and research assistant at The Morton Arboretum in its Plant Pathology Lab. He diagnosed plant problems on the grounds, conducted research on tree roots and oversaw the Plant Health Care Scouting Program.  

His love of teaching grew when he served as an adjunct faculty member for the Master of Landscape Architecture program at Illinois Institute of Technology, where he taught an Ecology and Plant Materials course for graduate students. Balestri then began teaching full time at College of DuPage.

“I decided to teach because I love sharing knowledge and information with others who share the same passion,” he said. “I strive to be a lifelong learner and by teaching, I continue to grow as a professional while instilling passion in my students. 

“I hope that students take away a deeper understanding and appreciation of the field of horticulture. I want my students to leave my classes inspired to pursue a career in horticulture and with the applied skills to accomplish their goals.”    

His own inspiration comes from God, his family and his students.

“The success of my students is my ultimate goal,” Balestri said.

More about the Horticulture program