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Speaker Bios

Gail Barton

Gail Barton taught Plant Propagation for over two decades as part of the Meridian Community College Horticulture Program.  During her long horticultural career, she worked as a Horticulture Instructor, owner of a retail mail order nursery, garden writer and landscape consultant.  She is past president of the Mississippi Native Plant Society and currently serves as the MNPS Field Trips Chair. Gail maintains a small backyard nursery on her 6 acre home place in Meridian, Mississippi. She firmly believes that small scale propagation is one of our best hopes for preserving and maintaining local ecotypes. Gail is a certifiable plant fool. She enjoys botanizing, kayaking and exploring her own wooded nature trails with her pack of happy dogs.

Brannen Basham & Jill Jacobs


Brannen Basham & Jill Jacobs

Brannen Basham and Jill Jacobs are owners of Spriggly's Beescaping, a nature education and habitat restoration business with a special focus on native plants and native pollinators. On the habitat restoration side of their business, they offer in-person and online consultation services for wildlife-focused sustainable landscaping, full-scale 2D and 3D design, and on-site implementation when available.  On the nature education side, they offer a variety of educational courses, both in-person and online, including a 16+ hour on-demand video series called Gardening for the Planet. Their Native Plant Conference course will be a condensed version of that content, which covers everything from attracting pollinators, to integrative pest management, to tackling drainage issues. In addition, they create nature-based interpretive exhibits and informational signage and have published two books with more on the way. In addition, Brannen serves as the resident nature writer for the Sylva Herald.

Phyllis Giffard


Phyllis Baudoin Griffard

Dr. Phyllis Baudoin Griffard is President of the Acadiana Native Plant Project in Southwest Louisiana. She is an award-winning biology educator who has taught university students all over the world, most recently at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She aims to help people of all ages connect with the biology in their own community. In addition to outreach that promotes habitat conservation and restoration with native plants, she has produced a documentary film about the genetics of DeafBlind Cajuns and is producing another about the natural and cultural history of the Cajun Prairie of Southwest Louisiana.

Tammany Baumgarten


Tammany Baumgarten

Tammany Baumgarten is a practicing Horticulturist and Owner/Operator of BaumGardens Landscape and Design in New Orleans. She is a Master Gardener with the LSU AgCenter, the founding President of the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans and the current President of the Louisiana Native Plant Society.  Her passion as a landscape designer, contractor and community educator is to increase the ecological functionality of built landscapes by incorporating native plants and other essential components of good habitat to gardens and green spaces while actively helping others to do so as well.

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Mike Berkley

Mike Berkley describes himself as a plantsman and nurseryman who was into natives before natives were cool.  With over 40 years in the industry, Mike has dedicated the last 29 years to his love for all things native.  As co-owner of GroWild, Inc, a native plant nursery & landscape design firm in Fairview, TN, Mike has spread his joy in over 35 State & Federal parks, countless homeowners, in commercial development, and even rooftops (one was for a president!).  

Adam Bigelow standing next to plants


Adam Bigelow

Adam Bigelow is a horticulturist and amateur botanist who lives in Cullowhee, NC, and has been studying the plants and wildflowers of Southern Appalachia for over 20 years. Adam is the owner/operator of Bigelow’s Botanical Excursions, an eco-tour business leading guided plant walks in WNC. He is an avid organic gardener and founded and managed the Cullowhee Community Garden for ten years. Adam is a member of the planning committee for the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference and has attended the conference for many years.

Adam Black

Randy Burroughs

Randy Burroughs is a horticulturist, NC landscape architect and ardent meadow gardener practicing deep in the mountains above Asheville.
1980 UGA Botanical Gardens - senior year work/study, Mike Dirrs tractor driver
1980-86 Greenville SC - City Horticulturist, we grew all our own annuals
1986-96 Arbor Engineering Inc - LA apprenticeship, wetlands delineation
1997- 2001 Botanical Gardens at UNCA Native Plant Garden Manager
2001 & beyond - Private practice: site work, native landscape design & consultation
An earnest student of natural systems and their applications in civilized landscapes.

Sonya Carpenter

Sonya Carpenter is a passionate advocate for the natural world.  She and her husband Canty Worley are the co-owners of a landscape company based in Highlands NC dedicated to creating and maintaining gardens in balance with the natural world.  She studied ecology at the University of Florida and has spent the past twenty years applying her knowledge of ecology to the design of planned natural communities such as pollinator gardens.  She served nine years as the Director of the Highlands Biological Foundation and is currently helping HBF design and manage their new pollinator garden at the Highlands Biological Station.  She is also the past President of the Highlands Plateau Greenway and the Highlands Bee City coordinator; an initiative to increase knowledge of and create habitat for our native pollinator species.

Owen Carson

For the past 13 years, Owen Carson has been a professional botanist/plant ecologist Equinox, an Asheville-based consulting firm, where he uses his knowledge to conduct biological inventories on land proposed for conservation, inform ecologically appropriate design, and enact landscape-scale conservation planning projects including state parks, watersheds, and master plans for large-acreage properties. While Owen has an affinity for the Southern Appalachian Mountains and the wealth of biodiversity they support, he is also intrigued by adjacent ecosystems in the Foothills and Piedmont, such as glades, barrens, grasslands, and savannas. An Atlanta native, he now lives in Brevard, NC, where he and his wife, Sarah, and twins Liam and Hazel, enjoy spending time on the French Broad River, exploring Pisgah NF and DuPont State Forest, growing native plants, cooking, and so much more. In his limited free time, Owen enjoys fishing tenkara on blueline streams, always in search of native speckled char.

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Erin Cord

Erin Cord joined the BCI staff in 2019 and is proud to be doing community engagement work on behalf of the organization. Erin double majored in Wildlife Conservation and Entomology from the University of Delaware and received her MS in Wildlife Ecology from the Cesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.  She has over 10 years of experience working as a wildlife biologist and running environmentally-focused volunteer, outreach, and education programs. Erin is happiest working at the intersection of science communication and citizen empowerment. She loves working outside and getting people excited about environmental stewardship and wildlife conservation.

David Cozzo

Dr. David Cozzo retired from Cooperative Extension at the rank of Area Specialized Agent and functioned in that capacity as the Director of the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR). He can now be found roaming the mean streets of West Asheville with a very large dog, puttering in the gardens that grace his modest estate, or attending to the needs and whims of his gainfully employed spouse.

Emily Driskill

Emily Driskill is an alumna of The Evergreen State College where she earned a B.A./B.S. with concentrations in Botany and Sustainable Agriculture. Through her many seasons of botany fieldwork in the Pacific northwest, the western Rockies, the southern Appalachians, and the mid-Atlantic coastal plain, she has gained a loving familiarity with native plants and their roles in the ecosystem. Emily has professional propagation experience as the former nursery manager at Carolina Native Nursery and is currently the founder and head grower at Tanager Plants LLC, a native plant nursery. In addition, she co-owns and designs for Blackbird Landscapes LLC in Mars Hill, NC.

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Bill Finch

Bill Finch is founding director of the Paint Rock Forest Research Center, which partners with The Nature Conservancy to develop cutting edge forest research on a 4000-acre preserve in northeast Alabama. He is former director of the Mobile Botanical Gardens; former Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy in Alabama; and a founding partner of the Alabama River Diversity Network, devoted to restoring human and biological diversity along the Alabama River. He is also an award-winning writer and journalist. His book, Longleaf Far As the Eye Can See, is in its fourth printing. As an environmental editor, Finch won numerous national and regional awards. His weekly column was awarded best specialty column nationally by the Headliners Club. His weekly radio show, focusing on natural history and gardening, broadcasts every Sunday morning.

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Jess Goehler

Jess Goehler, Curator at the Chicago Botanic Garden, is responsible for the acquisition, development, use, research, and interpretation of the Gardens internationally renowned collection of permanent plants.  Curating the living plant collection involves the procurement of plants from other botanic institutions, commercial nurseries, breeding programs, and collecting expeditions.  Jess also advocates for importance in botanical institutions role in public outreach and education. Originally, a native of northeast Ohio, Jess has earned a BA in Plant Biology and Environmental Studies from Ohio University and a MA in Urban Geography and GIS from Chicago State University.  Jess has experimented in many botanical areas including ecological work with the National Park Service in rural Idaho, conservatory, residential and public horticulture in Ohio, Illinois, and California, and plant surveying and documentation in Illinois, California, and Colorado.  Jess currently serves as the Vice-Chair for the Plant Nomenclature & Taxonomy for the American Public Garden Association.

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Kristen Haaf

Kristen Ford Haaf is a landscape architect and ecological designer dedicated to the repair of damaged land and the reintegration of people with nature. Kristen is the founder of Roots First Regenerative Design, an interdisciplinary design studio lovingly engaged in the art and science of bringing land to life. In addition to designing landscapes for amazing and aligned clients, Kristen teaches courses on ecological design and writes about the interplay between people, places, and ecosystems.

Kelly Holdbrooks

Jeff Jackson

Jeff Jackson was raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. His love of the outdoors led him to Clemson University and a BS in Horticulture in 1981. Since then, he has been a practicing landscape designer and horticulturist, with a flair for hardscape design incorporating the materials prevalent in local history. He has also focused on native botany and environmental work for the last 30 years.

Brian Jorg

Brian Jorg is Manager of the Native Plant Program for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Brian manages the Boyer Wetland, a 650-acre property in Warren County, Ohio. Among his responsibilities is the Native Plant Program. This program deals with a wide range of projects that deal directly with the propagation and conservation of our native flora. This also includes the recovery projects of endangered and critically imperiled plants.

Gary Kauffman

Gary has been the botanist/ecologist program manager for the National Forests in NC (NFsNC) since April of 2007. The NFsNC cover 1.3 million acres across 4 forests, the Nantahala and Pisgah NFs in the mountains, the Uwharrie NF in the Piedmont, and the Croatan NF in the Coastal Plain. Gary has been with the USFS since 1992, all in NC, working as a botanist, analyzing sustainability of harvested botanical products such as ginseng,recommending restoration of rare plants and communities, and updating forest plant revisions.He has a master’s degree in botany and has lived in western NC for the last 37 years.

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Lenny Lampel  

Lenny is a Natural Resources Supervisor with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreations Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources.  He is responsible for conducting biological assessments and inventories, monitoring populations of federal and state listed rare plant species, coordinating various fauna and flora studies and projects, and managing the biological collections housed within the Dr. James F. Matthews Center for Biodiversity Studies.  Lenny holds an MS in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England and a BA in Biology from SUNY College at Old Westbury.  Lenny lives in Concord, NC with his wife, three children and their big, furry dog and cat.

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Ronald Lance

Ron Lance is a Land Manager with the North American Land Trust and has been the caretaker at Big Ridge Preserve for 10 years. He has held previous posts in natural history education and interpretation, biology, forestry, botany, and horticulture since 1975.  He served on the Board of the International Oak Society for 12 years and has authored and co-authored numerous publications dealing with native woody plants of the Southeastern U.S., including 15 separate publications on Crataegus. A native of the Appalachian region of North Carolina, he now resides near Mountain Rest, SC.

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Margot Lester

I am a professional journalist and editor, an experienced writing teacher and coach, and co-author of two award-winning books, including Be a Better Writer. After four decades of getting paid to sling sentences, I know the challenges of producing high-quality writing and lots of strategies for fixing them. My coaching approach combines this real-world experience with research-based tactics to build on each writers strengths. I work across genres with people at all skill levels, including academic researchers, fundraising and marketing pros, students, and emerging and established authors. Fun fact: I’m also a certified interpretive guide/naturalist and am pursuing state certification as an environmental educator.

Peter Loos

Peter has spent over 40 years studying, promoting, and utilizing the native flora of Texas and the Gulf Coast south since receiving his BS and MS degrees from SFASU. He is the owner/operator of Ecovirons located in Chireno, Texas which involves not only growing native plants but also survey work of the native flora of east Texas.  He has discovered numerous new records to include a new state record for the species Stokesia laevis/Stokes Aster, and has not only more then doubled known populations but added 3 counties for Hamamelis ovalis/Big Leaf Witch Hazel, and 3 new colonies of Cypripedium kentuckiense/Kentucky Lady Slipper.  He has served in leadership positions of numerous native plant oriented organizations over the years in multiple states and is the current Conference Director of the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference.

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Lisa Lord

Lisa Lord is the Conservation Programs Director for The Longleaf Alliance. She leads the Alliance’s conservation, ecosystem service, and wildlife recovery programs, bringing strategic focus and purposeful engagement to the Alliance’s various local and range-wide conservation initiatives. She also provides landowner technical assistance, supports outreach in multiple states, and collaborates with partners to bring more focus to the benefits of forest retention and stewardship of water resources. She holds a BS in Wildlife Science and Master of Education from Auburn University and an MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University. Lisa is a past President of both the State and the Lowcountry Chapter of the SC Native Plant Society. 

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Margo MacIntyre

After a childhood in Chapel Hill learning about wildflowers and botany with her parents and then with the founding staff members of the fledgling North Carolina Botanical Garden, she took her interest in  plants and ecology to Warren Wilson College to major in Environmental Studies. 

The Environmental Studies degree helped her earn an internship at the NCBG as a first job. From there she went to Mount Cuba Center to take on the role of meadow gardener.  After two years in Delaware learning and working at Mt Cuba, she returned to North Carolina to be the curator of the newly established Elizabeth Holmes Hurley Park in Salisbury, NC. Hurley Park benefitted from MacIntyre’s knowledge of native plants and gardening, and MacIntyre benefitted from the experience of working for 17 years in a beloved new park for a large community with high expectations.

MacIntyre returned home to Chapel Hill for family reasons in 2004 and was quickly on board again at NCBG, this time as assistant curator for the campus gem, Coker Arboretum.  Then from 2008- May 2023, she was curator of Coker Arboretum and its five acres of native and Southern garden plants and landscapes.

In retirement she is gardening, cleaning up and continuing to find the wildflowers wherever they are.

Annie Martin  

WNC native and nationally-recognized expert on moss gardening, Annie Martin, known as Mossin’ Annie, infuses her passion for mosses with her knowledge of bryophytes and successful gardening techniques. Wearing many hats, Mossin’ Annie is a moss rescuer, farmer, researcher, landscape designer, field guide, garden speaker and published author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening (2015; Japanese translation, 2017). As owner of Mountain Moss Enterprises and licensed NC Landscape Contractor, she offers consultation services, garden designs and turnkey installations emphasizing the year-round green appeal of eco-friendly mosses. Mossin’ Annie rescues mosses from places where they will be destroyed. At her Mossery in Brevard, NC, Martin cultivates shade, sun and versatile moss species. Martin advocates benefits of native mosses as intentional horticultural choices. In her own words, she was Born to be a moss artist and to create innovative designs and sustainable landscapes resulting in serene retreats that lift your spirit.

Brent & Angela Martin

Brent and Angela Martin are co-owners of Alarka Expeditions, a nature, art, and literary based business located in the historic Cowee school in the heart of Cherokee country. Brent is also the executive director of the Bartram Trail Conservancy and author of the recent George Masa's Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina, which won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. He has worked in conservation for over thirty years for numerous organizations including Mainspring Conservation Trust, The Wilderness Society, Georgia Forestwatch, and the Little Tennessee Watershed Association. Angela has also had a long career in conservation, also having worked for the Wilderness Society, Georgia Forestwatch, and the Pacific Rivers Council. She is a singer songwriter who recently wrote and narrated the award winning documentary, This is Sparklehorse.

Dr. Patrick McMillan

Dr. Patrick McMillan was a faculty member at Clemson University from 2001-2020 where he was the Glenn and Heather Hilliard Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson University, was the director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum and the Clemson Experimental Forest and is an honorary member of the Clemson University Class of 1939. Patrick is a well-known fixture in the horticultural, taxonomic, and conservation circles. For over 30 years, he has worked as a professional botanist, horticulturist, naturalist, biologist, and educator. He is perhaps best known as the Emmy Award-winning host, co-creator and writer of the popular ETV nature program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan

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Preston Montague

Preston Montague is an artist, horticulturist, and landscape architect working to strengthen relationships between people and the natural world.

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Julie Moore

Julie Moore is an endangered species biologist, retiring in 2019 from the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Program as national coordinator for Safe Harbor and Candidate Conservation Agreements. For over a dozen years she was with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program as a botanist and ecologist specializing in fire dependent systems and working with private landowners. She is the author of “Managing the Forest and the Trees, a guide for longleaf forest landowners”. Julie is active in native plant conservation organizations and local land trusts, is past president of the Triangle Land Conservancy and the Botanical Society of Washington D.C., founding board member of the Longleaf Alliance, the B W Wells Association, and more recently, the Southern Conservation Partners. She is chairman of the NC Plant Conservation Program’s advisory board. In her retirement, she is coordinating the Venus Flytrap Champions project. She now lives in Raleigh, NC.  

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George Morris

Mr Morris is a steering committee member and a long time conference attendee, dating back to 1989. He has been on the program leading field trips and stream restoration walks on campus since 2006. Mr. Morris is the owner of Ripple EcoSolutions which was incorporated in March of 2019. Mr. Morris designs, implements and oversees planting projects for various clients in riparian buffers, wetland and stormwater BMPs. He also oversees invasive plant species removal for various projects. Mr. Morris has an extensive background in riparian buffer and wetland planting, horticulture and landscaping with native plant species. Mr. Morris has over 35 years of experience in the environmental industry, including over 20 years with environmental restoration of native plant communities and over 20 years with removal of invasive species. Prior to Ripple EcoSolutions, Mr. Morris was Botanist/ Vegetation Specialist for River Works from 2004 to February 2019. Mr. Morris was also an Environmental Scientist for an environmental restoration planting company where his primary responsibilities were oversight of installation of bioengineering and riparian buffer plantings for stream and wetland restoration, as well as design and installation of BMP’s and rain gardens. He also owned Landscape Sanctuaries, specializing in the use of native plants in landscape situations. Prior to Landscape Sanctuaries, Mr. Morris was Superintendent of Grounds at Davidson College and oversaw the day to day maintenance of the college campus and athletic fields as well as the selection, planting, and accessioning of plants in the Davidson College Arboretum. Mr. Morris holds a B.S. in Plant Science from the University of Delaware. He is a certified Stormwater BMP Inspection and Maintenance Professional and licensed NC Landscape and Aquatic Pesticide Applicator in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. Mr. Morris serves on the board for the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council. He represents the landscape industry on the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council.

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Darrel Morrison

Darrel Morrison grew up on a family farm in Iowa.  He received a BS degree in Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and a MS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught lecture and field courses on native plant communities, and courses in planting design and ecological restoration.  In 1983, he joined the faculty of the College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia, and taught there for twenty-one years, where his favorite course was a three-week field course on Southeastern Native Plant Communities.  He was a Cullowhee regular from 1984 to 2004.  In 2005, he moved to New York City, where he practiced ecology-based design for ten years.  He is currently a Senior Honorary Faculty Associate the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Geoffrey Neal

Geoffrey Neal currently serves as Curator of the Coker Arboretum, a 5-acre historic garden on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. He has made his living in gardens for over 25 years. He has been studying plant disjunctions, listening for and learning the stories plants tell. He also loves to climb trees.

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Nadine Phillips

Nadine Phillips is a lifelong nature lover. She is most at home, and most herself, in the forest. Nadine has led Forest Therapy walks since 2018 and is a certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guide accredited by the International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance (INFTA). She is active in the native plant movement as a gardener, Vice President of the Mississippi Native Plant Society, and as historian for the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. Nadine has been featured in DeSoto and Okra magazines and appeared as a guest speaker on episodes of theNative Plant Podcast and Nature Revisited. Nadine is an avid photographer, always seeking to capture nature’s beauty and wonder. All of her interests revolve around nature and promoting biodiversity to support the interconnected Web of Life. Nadine is also a longtime volunteer at The Crosby Arboretum, the premier native plant conservatory in the Southeast located in Picayune, MS.

J. Dan Pittillo

J. Dan Pittillo is a Retired Professor of Biology, Western Carolina University, where he taught 40 years until 2004. Since then, he conducted botanical surveys at Biltmore Estate (8800 acres), Blue Ridge Parkway (NC section), and currently in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Currently he is finishing a book, “Mountain Ventures”, natural areas of Jackson County and serves as Board member of Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Society, the last 1977 living founder.

Dr. Richard D. Porcher Jr.

Dr. Richard D. Porcher Jr. was born in Berkeley County South Carolina and recieved his B.S. from the College of Charleston and Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. Emeritus professor of biology from the Citadel, he has authored/co-authored several books on the flora and history of both the Lowcountry and state of SC, most recently a massively updated edition of A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina. In 2019 he was awarded The Order of the Palmetto, SC's highest civilian honor, in recognition of his lifetime of service and contributions to the State of South Carolina. 

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April Punsalan

April serves as a voice for plants.  She weaves the different plant science fields, botany, plant taxonomy, plant conservation, and herbalism to reconnect humans to the Earth.  Her 26-year plant journey has led to a Bachelor and Master of Science, emphasis in Botany, a two-year Horticulture Degree, a Traditional Herbalist Certificate, and specialized botanical training in the ferns and fern allies, grasses, sedges, and bryophytes.  April’s mission is to teach you how to forage your food and medicine to help you improve your health and the health of the Earth.


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Laura Lee Rose

Laura Lee Rose is a native of South Carolina and has lived in the Lowcountry for many years. Certified Nursery Professional and recently retired from the Clemson Extension Service, she taught Master Gardener classes and encouraged professional landscapers. A board member of the South Carolina Native Plant Society and President of the South coast Chapter Laura Lee encourages the use of native plant material and sustainable landscaping. She Enjoys spending time with her Grandchildren.

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Shelby Sanders

Shelby Lyn Sanders joined the Foothills Land Conservancy staff in 2017. She is the Director of Natural Resources, working internally to oversee all aspects of land management as well as in the field, preparing baseline documentation reports and annual monitoring of conservation easement properties. Shelby graduated from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville in 2015, receiving a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Science with a focus on management. An Oklahoma native, Shelby has called East Tennessee home since 2009. Her background includes working in both Tennessee and Kansas studying the ecology of grassland birds for UT’s Center for Native Grassland Management. Shelby Lyn also spent a year working for the Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service in conjunction with UT, where she assisted with the data collection for various projects assessing growth and competitiveness of upland hardwoods in the Southern Appalachian region. Shelby is a whole-hearted native plant enthusiast and is involved in several local organizations and initiatives aimed at increasing awareness about the value and use of native plants in the landscape.  In her free time, Shelby enjoys birding, botanizing, hiking, and watching any kind of racing, especially NASCAR.

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Pete Schubert

Pete is a longtime Cullowhee Conference attendee, Steering Committee member, and past Conference Director.  He retired from a career as a project engineer with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency, developing civil works projects and a major sustainable lab and office campus complex in the Triangle Region of NC.  Pete holds a BS in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT and pursued graduate work at UNC Chapel Hill in Geology. He is passionate about sustainability, was a LEED Accredited Professional through the US Green Building Council, and is a co-founder and past community board member of the South Durham Farmers’ Market. A mostly self-taught naturalist, Pete often leads wildflower, ecology, and geology hikes for local land trusts in natural areas across NC. He serves, or has served, on the boards of the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council, the Eno River Association, and the B.W. Wells Association.  He is an active member of the New Hope Audubon Bird-Friendly Habitat team, developing and implementing residential, corporate, school, and community-level habitat improvements with land owners.  Pete also performs volunteer stewardship work for the Eno River Association, Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Triangle Land Conservancy, NC Botanical Garden, and other local land trusts and managers.

Chris Sermons

Chris Sermons is a naturalist and biological farmer. An Upstate South Carolina native, he grew up hunting and fishing with his father which led to his love of the outdoors and to his being an active participant in the natural world. In 2004, he started Bio Way Farm in Ware Shoals, SC where they grow organic food and foster biodiversity. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association recognized Chris as the Farmer of the Year in 2016. His approach to managing the land is guided by a land ethic and his background in permaculture. On the farm, Chris is restoring a remnant Post Oak Savanna after learning about the natural history of the Piedmont from the SC Native Plant Society. He's held leadership roles with the Sierra Club, Wild South and Slow Food and looks forward to advancing the native plant mission in the future.

Dawn Sherry  

Dr. Dawn Sherry is an avian ecologist by training and a native plant enthusiast because of the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference!  She is a Professor of Biology at Middle Georgia State University where she serves as the Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences.  When she’s not in the classroom, she enjoys hiking, kayaking and any excuse to be outdoors.

Ann Stoneburner

Ann Stoneburner received her B.S. from Radford University (VA) and her M.S. from James Madison University (VA), both in Biology. She obtained her Ph.D. from Duke University (NC), studying under Lewis Anderson, a leading authority on the moss flora of North America.  As a research scientist in the Department of Botany at the University of Georgia, Ann’s research centered on the systematics and evolution of polyploidy in species of the Mniaceae, a boreal and arctic family of mosses with a number of species whose geographical ranges extend to the Southern Appalachians.

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Patrick Thompson

Patrick Thompson grew up on Shades Mountain near Birmingham AL. He has been employed by AU’s Davis Arboretum since the year 2000.  Patrick has curated the Arboretum’s native oak and deciduous azalea collections since 2008, which are now both certified by  Association of the Public Gardens of America’s Plant Collection Network.  He’s an honorary Lee County Master Gardener, Certified arborist, Type II wildland firefighter, and the Coordinator of Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance. His master’s thesis shed some light on native azalea propagation. Current work efforts include genetic conservation of recalcitrant trees, developing the Arboretum’s collections, breeding and selecting new deciduous azalea cultivars, and numerous rare plant species projects with the Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance.

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Amy Tipton    

Amy is a botanist and an artist who has served as the Assistant Director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens for 5 years. She directs the Gardens’ Certificate of Native Plant Studies, originally developed by Dr. Larry Mellichamp. 

Amy holds a Master of Science degree in Botany focused on native plant ID, forest ecology, and aquatic ecology.  Amy also has bachelor degrees in Drawing and Art History, and an MFA in Printmaking.  She was awarded the American Society of Botanical Artists’ prestigious Anne Ophelia Dowden Education Grant in 2008.  Amy has taught for over 25 years.  Some of her past teaching posts have included instructing drawing at Miami University (Ohio), art appreciation at Eastern Kentucky University, 7th grade science as a National Science Foundation Fellow, and a variety of classes for the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ Native Plant Certification Program.  

Tom Tribble    

Tom Tribble served six years as President and is now an At-Large Director of Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter, which covers Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and several adjacent counties in western North Carolina. Tom has been an Audubon member and avid birder for more than 45 years. Tom worked for 30 years at the NC Center for Geographic Information & Analysis, the State's Geographic Information System, retiring in 2013. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and a Master's degree from Duke University.

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Scott Ward

Scott Ward is a research botanist at North Carolina Botanical Garden working for the Flora of the Southeastern United States team and its associated PDF publications, as well as web and phone applications. Scott is originally from western New York, has worked and collected plant specimens across much of Florida, and is now extensively exploring North Carolina and elsewhere across the southeastern US. His degree is in plant ecology from SUNY Brockport, where he worked on a variety of community and wetland ecology projects. Scott also performs research at the NCU Herbarium, annotating specimens, utilizing specimens for dichotomous key writing, and accessioning many of his botanical collections into the herbarium.

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Marc Williams

Ethnobiologist Marc Williams has taught hundreds of classes to thousands of people about plants, humans, other life forms and their interface. His training includes a B.A. in Environmental Studies/Sustainable Agriculture from Warren Wilson College with a minor in Business and a M.A. in Appalachian Studies/Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University with a minor in Planning/Geography. He has over 20 years of experiences working at various restaurants, farms, and travels throughout 30 countries in Central/North/South America, Europe and all 50 states in the USA. More information can be found at and

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Robert Wyatt

Robert Wyatt obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his doctorate from Duke University, both in Botany.  He taught at Texas A&M University before joining the faculty at the University of Georgia, where he was a Professor of Botany and Ecology for more than 20 years.  From 1999 to 2005 Dr. Wyatt was the Executive Director of the Highlands Biological Station, an interinstitutional center of the University of North Carolina.  He has won numerous awards for teaching and research, trained more than 40 graduate students, and published more than 170 scientific papers.

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