KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

brie arthur

BRIE ARTHUR

The Foodscape Revolution

Bestselling author and horticulturist, Brie Arthur has garnered acclaim for her enthusiastic presentations and practical, out of the box gardening advice. Originally from southeastern Michigan, Brie Arthur studied Landscape Design and Horticulture at Purdue University. With more than a decade of experience as a grower and propagator she now shares her expertise as an advocate for consumer horticulture and home gardening across America.  

Brie is an ambassador for Soil3 organic compost and has appeared as a correspondent on the PBS Television show “Growing a Greener World”.  She is President of the International Plant Propagators Society Southern Region and is on the board for the North Carolina Botanic Garden Foundation. Brie was honored as the first recipient of the The American Horticultural Society’s Emerging Horticultural Professional Award for her efforts in connecting a new generation to the art of growing. In her second book, Gardening with Grains published by St Lynn’s Press, Brie explores the opportunities in residential and commercial landscapes with creative and thoughtful uses for traditional agricultural crops.

Brie’s keynote will address “The Foodscape Revolution” & “finding a better way to make space for food and beauty in your garden.”

joseph tyconovich

JOSEPH TYCHONIEVICH

Plant Science to make you a better gardener

A life long gardener and lover of plants, Joseph has worked for nurseries in the US and Japan, has been a repeated guest on public radio’s food show The Splendid Table and was named by Organic Gardening Magazine as one of “…six young horticulturists who are helping to shape how America gardens.”

Joseph is the author of Plant Breeding for the Home GardenerThe Complete Guide to Gardeners, and Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style and is the editor the North American Rock Garden Society quarterly journal.

Currently Joseph lives with his husband, two cats, a dog, and an absurd number of plants in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Joseph’s keynote “Plant Science to Make You a Better Gardener” is a deep dive into plant science topics, translating them into easy-to-understand terms and giving practical ways you can use that understanding to work in the garden.

Kelly Norris

KELLY NORRIS

Planting for the Future

Kelly D. Norris is an award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a revitalized public garden in Des Moines, Iowa. Throughout his career, his work has been featured in The New York Times, Organic Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Garden Design and in numerous local and regional media appearances. In 2019, Kelly joined Cottage Farms Direct on QVC as a guest host.

At the Botanical Garden, Kelly is responsible for leading and directing a team of horticulturists and educators in all aspects of design, curation, programming, and garden management, after serving as the principal horticulture consultant to the $18 million renovation project completed in 2014.

DENNIS DIMICK

Living in the Human Age

The son of fisheries biologists, Dennis Dimick grew up on a sheep and hay farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest near Portland, Oregon. After completing agriculture and agricultural journalism studies at Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dennis in 1974 began a four-decade journalism career that included more than 35 years at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where he served as a photography editor and for a decade as the magazine’s environment editor. 

With a focus on the collision between human aspiration and the planet, his National Geographic work included orchestrating major magazine projects on energy, climate change, soil conservation, global freshwater, world population, and the future of food security. Dimick lectures on the emerging Human Age or Anthropocene epoch, and his new Eyes on Earth project with photographer Jim Richardson emphasizes seeing the Anthropocene and its meaning.

COLE BURRELL

Nature’s Sustainable System

Cole Burrell is an acclaimed lecturer, garden designer, award-winning author and photographer. A certified chlorophyll addict, Cole is an avid and lifelong plantsman, gardener and naturalist.

He has twice won the American Horticulture Society Book Award for Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide, Timber Press (2007) and for A Gardner’s Encyclopedia of Wildflowers, Rodale Press (1998). Cole received the Award of Distinction from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers for his work promoting sustainable gardening practices.

Cole is a popular lecturer internationally on topics of design, plants and ecology. He has shared his love of plants and regional landscapes with professional and amateur audiences for 40 years. He is principal of Native Landscape Design and Restoration, which specializes in blending nature and culture through artistic design.

CONCURRENT SESSION SPEAKERS

Bennett Saunders: Bennett grew up working in the family orchards and nursery in Nelson County, Virginia. After college, he returned to a partnership with his four brothers and dad. Together, over a period of 30 years, the family grows ornamental plants on 100 acres of greenhouses and 150 acres of nursery field production, as well as maintain and harvest 175 acres of orchard. With the advent of Boxwood Blight in 2011, Bennett’s focus turned towards the nursery’s boxwood germplasm collection, where he has helped to identify boxwood with better tolerance of Boxwood Blight. Bennett has served the industry over the years including service as the president of the International Fruit Tree Association, president of the Virginia Horticulture Society, and president of the American Boxwood Society.

Betty Robison: Betty Robison is a Penn State Master Gardener Emeritus of Washington County, Pennsylvania. She and her husband own Robison Acres Plant Sanctuary located in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania. Their property was designated as a Pennsylvania Wild Plant Sanctuary in 2010, and they operate a nursery following a strict organic approach, along with an apiary. They work with beekeepers and the public on improving their landscapes to benefit pollinators. Betty has spoken at numerous master gardener conferences, at local garden clubs, at state conferences for professionals in therapeutic recreation, and to activity personnel in long term care facilities in an effort to engage older adults in gardening activities especially those individuals with dementia. She was awarded a certificate in excellence for horticultural therapy in 2000.

Bill Lester: Dr. William Lester holds a graduate degree in Plant Medicine from the University of Florida and currently works for UF/IFAS Extension in Hernando County, FL. Combining a mix of horticultural knowledge and management skills, his current responsibilities include teaching the public and working closely with county and professional clients. As a frequent guest on radio and writing for local newspapers, his goal is to put complex scientific findings into language that can be understood and applied by school age children and adults.

Bryce Lane: Bryce discovered his passion for plants and telling others about them while working at a small Massachusetts garden center throughout high school and college.  After earning his B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture, he came to the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University as an Instructor and Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator.  He spent thirty-four years teaching and advising over 20,000 students.  Although Bryce retired in 2014, he still teaches part-time at North Carolina State.  For eleven seasons he hosted and produced the three-time, Emmy winning, UNC TV public television show “In the Garden With Bryce Lane.”  He now spends his time giving horticulture talks, leadership and communication training, and teaching part-time at North Carolina State and the JC Raulston Arboretum. He has also worked closely with North Carolina Extension and the NC Nursery and Landscape Association for many years. Bryce is now featured as the host of Logan’s Garden Shop Podcast. As an avid gardener in his spare time, Bryce has creatively cultivated the same one quarter acre plot for thirty-six years. He and his wife of forty-two years also enjoy spending time growing and making memories with their six grandchildren!

Chris Mullins: Chris Mullins has a B.S. and M.S. in Biology and more than 25 years of experience in greenhouse production of horticulture crops, including owning and operating greenhouse operations, and 20 years of experience in research and extension/outreach. He currently serves as Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist for Greenhouse and Specialty Crops at Virginia State University with responsibility for leading and managing the state-wide extension program in the area of protected culture of horticulture crops. His current areas of research and extension work include: hydroponics, greenhouse management, specialty crops, vegetable production, irrigation, high tunnel crop production, and aquaponics. Chris has been co-principal investigator on more than $1,000,000 in grant funded projects in the last 10 years and authored or co-authored more than 10 extension and journal publications. Chris can be seen monthly on the TV show Real Virginia on the gardening segment From the Ground Up.

Cris Blackstone: Cris Blackstone is a New Hampshire Certified Landscape Professional and now serves as the Education Coordinator for that organization. She serves on the National Sustainability Committee of Garden Comm (formerly Garden Writers of America) and offers workshops and presentations on garden topics (including overviews of herbs throughout history and improving your garden and landscape photography) and organizes plant swaps, book clubs focused on garden and plant topics, and arranges other workshops for affiliated organizations. Cris feels fortunate to be able to travel to many states and countries, visiting public and private gardens and photographing or writing about those travels. From date palms in an oasis at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, to seeing the northernmost banana growing in the greenhouses of Iceland’s Agriculture and Horticulture College, she’s as excited to be in her garden at home–especially in late winter with the benefits of solar collection in the high tunnel. Cris spent her first career as an educator and then school administrator–with family interest and support, she was able to leave that arena and devote her time fully to gardens/botany/horticulture and writing about those things. With the background in education, she’s particularly interested in ways to support educators in effectively and inextricably weaving school gardens in to the K-8 curriculum. As an educator, she wrote lesson plans for the Boston Bruins outreach and education programs, Apple iPad first generation lessons in STEM for middle school use, and contributed to several school districts adding botany and gardening to their standard K-8 curriculum materials.

Crystal Tyler-Mackey: Crystal Tyler-Mackey’s academic career began at Virginia Tech, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in family and child development. After graduation, she studied at the University of Maryland at College Park, earning a master’s degree and doctorate, both in family studies. Before accepting her current position, Tyler-Mackey worked as an educator and researcher at the University of Maryland, as a 4-H agent and unit coordinator for Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Richmond City Office, and as a community viability area specialist for the Southeast District with Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE). Dr. Crystal Tyler-Mackey currently serves as the Extension Leader for Inclusion and Diversity forVCE. 

Dave Close: Dave has worked with the Extension Master Gardener program for more than 11 years. Prior to coming to Virginia, he was the Community Forestry Coordinator for the southern 36 counties in Illinois, a role he filled for nearly seven years. He was also an instructor in the Department of Forestry at Southern Illinois University where he taught classes in tree identification, forest ecology, forest ecosystems, and urban forestry. After leaving Illinois and taking on his role as the State Coordinator for the Extension Master Gardener Program, his interests have evolved into volunteer management and leadership development of volunteers. He also works closely with Extension Agents statewide and the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association.

Dennis Patton: Dennis’ primary focus with Johnson County Extensions is ornamental horticulture. He directs an EMG program of over 450 volunteers. Johnson County, Kansas is part of the metropolitan Kansas City area. EMG programming is diverse including demonstration gardens, hotline, speakers bureau, youth education and more. Dennis is popular garden writer in the Kansas City area with a personal column in The Kansas City Star, as well as other outlets. He has twice been recognized as a national winner for personal column by the National Association of County Agriculture Agents.

Ed Olsen: Ed began his position as the new Extension Agent for ANR-Horticulture in Henrico County in 2016. He brings with him a strong background in horticulture, floriculture, greenhouse production and management, landscaping, forestry, small engine repair, Future Farmer’s Association (FFA), and 4-H, having been an Agriculture Education teacher at Powhatan High School. Ed received his undergraduate degree in Horticulture at Virginia Tech and also his master’s degree in Career and Technical Education from Virginia Tech.

Frank Reilly: Frank Reilly has worked with water quality and water resources for most of his career. Recently, he completed the largest water footprint ever done for the US Army, and then used that to determine the vulnerabilities due to water (flood, drought, sea-level rise). Recently, he has been involved with estimating water vulnerabilities in our supply chains, and to evaluate aquifer protection in San Antonio, TX. He is a certified nutrient planner in Virginia and deals regularly with landscape-level practices involving water.

Gwynee Mhuireach: Gwynne Mhuireach was born and raised on a small farm near Klamath Falls, Oregon. She has been a member of the Biology and Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon since 2009. Gwynne currently studies microbial communities associated with plants and soil in urban environments, as well as those found inside buildings. Ultimately, she hopes to develop strategies that urban planners and designers can use to improve the design and management of future cities where the majority of global human populations will live.

Heather Andrews: Heather, one of 13 grandchildren, was inspired by her Grandfather to create pollinator hedgerows after her Grandfather taught her that his vegetable garden yields were higher the years that his beehives were healthy. She documented the success of mixing native flowers with vegetable gardens, and created a videolog on Facebook, The Thoughful Gardener. Her videos have garnered over 40K views, as she provides practical tips and tricks to attract native pollinators in her monarch waystation, Cat-a-pillar Haven. Her photographs, articles, and gardens have been featured in magazines, and she is a routine native garden contributor to radio broadcasts.

Heeyoung Kim: Heeyoung Kim, known as ‘Wildflower Painter’, paints and documents native plants in watercolor, graphite pencil, and ink in a traditional/scientific way, yet with a touch of modern edge with her keen sense of composition and mastery of the media she uses. Her numerous awards have proven her versatility. Her watercolors and graphite pencil drawings received 4 awards from New York International HSNY/ASBA including Best of Show (2012), RHS Gold Medal (2012), and her 3 watercolors are included in Prince of Wales’s Transylvania Florilegium. She exhibited her ink illustrations at Margaret Flockton Award (2010, 2013), and 2 works in watercolor and ink at Hunt 13th International (2010). She has mounted five solo exhibitions and exhibited in numerous international juried group exhibitions.

Holly Scoggins: Holly Scoggins, Ph.D., is an associate professor emeritus from Virginia Tech. She retired in January 2020 after 20 years in the Department of Horticulture with teaching, research, and Cooperative Extension responsibilities to join the AmericanHort team where she serves today as VP of Educational Programs. Holly received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in Horticultural Science from North Carolina State University. Holly is President-elect of the national Perennial Plant Association and enjoys sharing her love of plants and the green industry at state, regional, and national gardening and professional conferences and symposia. She loves being outdoors hiking and fishing, is a beekeeper, and enjoys time with her pups, Bunny and Pepper. Holly and her husband Joel Shuman own Bee Berry Farm, a you-pick blueberry farm and apiary in southwest Virginia.

Jeong-hyun An: Jeong-hyun is the founder and owner of YAGO Farm & Food, LLC, a Kentucky-based Korean food manufacturing business.  YAGO’s mission is creating an easier path for immigrant and refugee community members to participate in the local food systems as food producers. Jeong-hyun is passionate about supporting local food cultural diversity through global inspirations and connections. She strongly believes in the interconnectedness of all beings on this earth and uses food as a powerful tool to promote ecological justice, food equity, sustainability, love, and compassion.  In 2011, she facilitated the connection between Kentucky and South Korea for the first global MG partnership. The collaboration formed through her facilitation played an important role during the initial stage of the Korean Master Gardener Program development. The 2014 Korean MG Conference was made possible hugely due to this strong partnership between the two countries. In 2016, Jeong-hyun officially became an EMG volunteer of Fayette County, KY. In 2019, she led a 12-member Kentucky delegation to South Korea for the Seoul Urban Agriculture International Conference as well as special seminars with Korean Master Gardeners.       

Jon Eisenback: Dr. Eisenback holds a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from North Carolina State University and is currently a Professor of Nematology at Virginia Tech. He is a Fellow in the Society of Nematologists, a EUMANE Scholar, was a First Prize Winner of Nikon’s Small World Photography Contest, and is a Past President of the Society of Nematologists

Julia Sherk: Julia Sherk is an associate professor in the Horticultural Science Department at North Carolina State University where she teaches landscape design studios to undergraduate and graduate students. Particularly focused on community engaged design and in the artful use of land forms and plants as design elements, she believes in the critical role they play in improving and enhancing the human/natural experience. She has coordinated community engagement projects and executed a variety of service learning projects with her students in her local community and beyond. She has been involved in a broad range of local, national, and international projects through her landscape architecture practice, JTSLA, and works for both public and private clients on commercial, resort, mixed-use, zoning, annexation cases, and residential projects.

Kathleen Wellington: Kathleen Wellington is a Virginia Licensed Professional Counselor, spending 40+ years working in behavioral health field in administrative and clinical positions. Prior to her retirement, she served as Vice President of Clinical Services for a local non-profit and worked part-time as a therapist specializing in anxiety and affective disorders. Her passion is horticulture therapy. She has taken certificate courses in horticulture therapy and worked throughout her career developing, implementing, and consulting on various horticultural therapy projects. Kathleen presented at the United States Botanical Garden, Washington, DC and at several National Horticulture Therapy Association conferences including, in 2018, on the Green Spring Gardens Extension

Kelly Allsup: Kelly Allsup is a horticulture educator for the University of Illinois Extension serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. She serves the educational needs of her community, Master Gardeners, and Master Naturalist volunteers through an expertise in home horticulture and entomology. Her passion for ecological gardening and all things plants makes her a dynamic speaker on topics that range from beneficial insects to urban trees. She writes a column for the Pantagraph entitled Green Thumb Gardening and a blog called Flowers, Fruits and Frass. She extends her expertise to the University of Illinois Extension Facebook Live with the Horticulturists and makes appearances on the WILL Mid-American Gardener show. She has won an award for her work on educating on pollinators in the YouTube series Good, Bad and Lovely. A graduate of the University of Illinois, she connects the latest horticulture research to the community she serves.

Lee Reich: Lee Reich, Ph.D., is a scientist, an avid farmdener (more than a gardener, less than a farmer), and writer. After work in agricultural research for the USDA and Cornell University, he turned to free-lance writing and lecturing. In addition to authoring a number of gardening books, he has written a biweekly gardening column for the Associated Press for the past 30 years. His farmden provides a testing ground for innovative techniques in soil care, pruning, and growing fruits and vegetables, and helps satisfy his educational mandate with workshops and training.

Leonard Githinji: Dr. Leonard Githinji has a Ph.D. in Agronomy and Soils, an M.S. in Physical Land Resources and a B.S. in Agriculture. He has more than 10 years of research, teaching, and Extension experience at various institutions across three continents. He currently serves as an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist of Sustainable and Urban Agriculture at Virginia State University, having served as a Horticulture Specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and in a similar capacity at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He has been awarded 10 competitive grant projects as a project investigator (PI) adding up to over $2.3 million and a further $2 million as a Co-PI. These grant projects cover several disciplines, including: i) urban and sustainable agriculture, ii) organic agriculture, iii) enhancing the viability and sustainability of limited-resource farmers, iv) water quality, v) urban food systems, and vi) integrated crop-livestock production systems. Dr. Githinji has published over 30 articles in research and extension resources focusing on sustainable agricultural practices and has taught several courses including soil science, vegetable crops production: soil morphology, soil physics, and introduction to GIS. Dr. Githinji has received 5 professional awards including the Showcasing Scholarship at Virginia Tech University, a Showcase of Excellence Award at AEA Meeting in Tennessee, Faculty Performance Award, Academic Excellence Award and the A.L. Smith Award.

Lisa Sanderson: Lisa Sanderson is the Residential Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator for Extension for University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension in Sumter County. She has been with UF/IFAS, North Carolina State University and Virginia Cooperative Extension for 13 years. Lisa enjoys her work sharing research-based information from University of Florida with the residents of Sumter County. She also appreciates working with dedicated Master Gardener Volunteers in Sumter County who devote their hours to projects such as the Demonstration Garden, the Youth Garden, the Master Gardener Speaker Series, Information Booths, Spring Garden Festival, Plantoberfest, and Ask the Master Gardener Plant Clinics offered in person and digitally.

Lucy Bradley: Dr. Lucy Bradley works for the North Carolina State Department of Horticultural Science as the Associate Department Head, the Department Extension Leader, and the Urban Horticulture Specialist directing consumer horticulture, community gardening, therapeutic horticulture, and the North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program. Lucy began her gardening career as a Master Gardener Volunteer in Phoenix, Arizona. For her dissertation, Dr. Bradley helped create and evaluated a semester long, fully online Plant Biology Lab. Working in partnership with Longwood Gardens, she has been able to pursue her fascination with translating meaningful hands-on activities into accessible online opportunities. Dr. Bradley is an urban pioneer raising chickens, bees, and a son in an edible landscape full of native plants.

Marylou Wall: Marylou Wall is a retired professional registered nurse and administrator of special education programs, working in five states and seven school systems while joining her military husband crisscrossing the United States for 38 years with plenty of stories to share! Prior to retiring as the Director of Student Services from the City of Alexandria Public Schools, VA, she completed classes from the Green Spring Gardens Master Gardener program in 2005, taking vacation days on Tuesday and Thursdays for three months! Her volunteer activities center around the Garden Talks as lead, Mentoring and High Tech teams. Marylou serves as a Board member on the Friends of Green Springs (FROGS). She loves what is called social gardening, the way diverse communities are brought together around a local garden like Green Spring Gardens.

Michelli Booker: Michelli Booker is a Garden Coach and Landscape Designer, working with clients to better understand and enjoy their landscapes and gardens. Michelli Booker’s degree is in Horticulture with an emphasis on Landscape Design. She’s been certified as an ‘Advanced level’ Horticulturist through the Virginia Nursery and Landscapers Association (for which she teaches state certifications) and as a Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional. Michelli serves as a Virginia Beach Master Gardener with their Tree Stewards and Speakers Bureau, speaking to the public on a variety of topics. She serves with the VA Horticultural Foundation and the Chesapeake Arboretum, working to educate the public about their surrounding environment.

Mikaela Boley: Senior Agent Assoc. (Talbot County) for Horticulture, Rachel Rhodes- Agent Assoc. for Horticulture (Queen Anne’s Co), and Emily Zobel- Agriculture Agent (Dorchester County).

Mike Maddox: Mike has been the Outreach Program Manager for the Wisconsin Master Gardener Program since 2013. He holds a Biology B.S. from the University of Northern Iowa and a Horticulture MS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Pam Bennett: Pam is an Associate Professor with The Ohio State University and serves as the Horticulture Educator for OSU Extension in Clark County as well as the Director for the state Master Gardener Volunteer Program director. She is also Interim Chadwick Arboretum Program Director. Pam is the co-author of the award-winning book Garden-pedia, An A-to- Z Guide to Gardening Terms, writes a weekly gardening column for eight counties receiving the Cox Publishing brands, authors the bi-monthly Ask the Expert Column for Ohio Gardening magazine, and is a frequent writer for popular gardening magazines as well as trade publications.

Pat Reilly: Pat Reilly has 25 years of experience as a Master Gardener volunteer, 10 years as a local MG coordinator, and 11 years’ experience in the public sector educating homeowners on proper plant selection and care. Her current position with a large garden center is in the trees and shrubs department, assisting homeowners and landscapers on proper selection, care, and problem solving.

Paulette W. Royt: Dr. Paulette Royt earned a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from American University and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland. After a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, Paulette joined the Biology Department of the George Mason University where she taught numerous courses within microbiology and pursued research in pathogenic microbiology. Upon retiring from George Mason University, Paulette became a Extension Master Gardener at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax County where she serves as a member of the Advisory Board, as a docent and as a speaker on many topics of horticulture.

Robin Wilson Gorham: Dr. Robin (Bill) Gorham earned a BS (1969), MS (1973) and PhD (1974) in Biology from the University of California, Irvine. Bill joined the Biology Department of the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) where he taught numerous courses within biology, becoming a Professor Emeritus. Upon retiring from NVCC, Bill became an Extension Master Gardener at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax County, VA.

Susan DeBlieck: Susan DeBlieck is an innovative program coordinator with a demonstrated history of community engagement, local food, event planning, social media, diversity & inclusion, education, and program evaluation. She is the North Central chair on the Extension Master Gardener National Committee and the State Coordinator for the Iowa Master Gardener program.