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Speaker Bios

David Anderson is the Horticulture Operations Supervisor for the EBCI. David lives in the Big Cove Community. David is a graduate of NC State University and is currently pursuing his master’s with a focus in traditional agriculture. David came into his role in 2017 with his focus being propagation and restoration of native plants, culturally significant plants, and traditional foods at The Jessie Owle Dugan Native Plant & Greenhouse Facility. He also works with tribal farmers to help restore traditional Cherokee foodways.  

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 Dirr’s 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.

Tommy Cabe is the Forest Resource Specialist for the EBCI. Tommy is a tribal member from the Birdtown Community. Tommy is a graduate of the Forestry Program at Haywood Community College.  In 2005 he became the Tribal Forest Resource Specialist where he is responsible for Forest Management Plan Development on the Trust Lands and on the forested Tribal acres. Cabe serves as a liaison in the “agency to agency” relationships with the USFS and the NPS for collaboration on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and traditional gathering of certain resources within these adjacent landscapes. He represents the Tribe locally and nationally on natural resource issues that impact Indian country both positive and negatively. In doing so he is constantly aware of traditional ceremonies that need to be practiced for a more definitive connection to the land.

Basil Camu loves trees. And soil, wildflowers, insects, bats, fungi, ecosystems - basically all of Earth. He is fully committed to caring for this beautiful planet. He is a Treecologist, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, Duke graduate, and Wizard of Things at Leaf & Limb. Though trees are his passion and profession, he also loves cultivating flowers in his garden, restoring native meadows, and propagating plants from seed. Some of Basil's favorite pastimes are hanging out with his wife and sons, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, powerlifting, hiking, and long-distance running. His next favorite things in life are reading, garlic, traveling the world, blazing hot peppers, pickles, and anything from Lucette Grace in downtown Raleigh, in approximately that order.

Denisha Carly 

Sonya Carpenter 

Jamie Van Clief began her journey with TACF when she interned for the New England Science Coordinator while completing her Bachelor of Science in both Forestry and Environmental Science from the University of Vermont. She joined the Peace Corps in Panama as an agriculture volunteer in the indigenous reservation, where she supported cacao and coffee farmers. After the successful completion of her service, she spent two years at the United States Department of Agriculture helping manage large agroforestry projects. Jamie came back to TACF to start full-time in 2021 as the Regional Science Coordinator for the Southern Region.  She covers North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, and is based out of the office headquarters in Asheville.

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years. In 1996 he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with Olga Katic, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries and currently maintains over 300 species of fungi for food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and natural alternatives to chemical pesticides. In 2014, Tradd completed and published the best-selling book Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation (2014), that is still one of the top ten releases with the publisher, Chelsea Green. Tradd has won numerous awards for his work including the prestigious Clemson University Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2013), the EPA GRO-U Fellowship Award (2011), and an expert lecturer on all topics related to fungi in agriculture and medicine. His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world. Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate research for commercial production of new and experimental species, as well as mycoremediation projects. In 2018 Mushroom Mountain started a daughter company, MYCOMATRIX, that develops novel medicinal extracts for consumers and cobranding into consumer products. In 2019 Mushroom Mountain opened THE BLUE PORTAL, a psilocybin research and mediated session center, that is available in Jamaica and soon Costa Rica. Tradd’s current research projects include bacterial interactions with fungi and novel antibiotic discovery.

Katie Davis joined the Horticulture department of the North Carolina Zoological Park in 2020 to manage the nursery and the park's 5 Monarch Waystations. Before becoming a state employee she worked at Cure Nursery - Native Plants for almost a decade. When not her hands aren't in the dirt; Katie enjoys working in her home garden with her chickens and Chiwawa.

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 horticultural experience as the former Nursery Manager at Carolina Native Nursery in Burnsville, NC. She currently operates Blackbird Landscapes in Mars Hill, NC, while continuing as an independent sales rep for Carolina Native.

Kim Eierman is the Founder of EcoBeneficial LLC, a horticulture consulting and communications company based in NY.  She is an environmental horticulturist specializing in native plants and ecological landscapes. Kim teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Native Plant Center in NY, Rutgers Home Gardeners School and several other institutions.  Kim is an active speaker nationwide on many ecological landscape topics, she also provides landscape design and horticultural consulting to homeowners and commercial clients. In addition to being a Certified Horticulturist through the American Society for Horticultural Science, Kim is an Accredited Organic Landcare Professional, a Steering Committee member of The Native Plant Center, and a member of The Ecological Landscape Alliance and the Garden Communicators International. Kim is the author of The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Gardening.

Katheryn "Katie" Ellis was a recipient of a 2013 Cullowhee Conference Scholarship and has been involved with the SC Native Plant Society since 2010 (serving as both the Lowcountry Chapter President from 2015-2017, and currently as the State President). She is also a certified SC Master Gardener and SC Master Naturalist. Katie has a BS in Biological Systems Engineering with a concentration in Land & Water Resources Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an MS in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston. Katie is a Water Resources Designer II for McCormick Taylor in Charleston, SC. Previously, she worked for the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve as lead author for Low Impact Development in Coastal South Carolina: a Planning and Design Guide. Currently, Katie works on both engineering and environmental projects at McCormick Taylor that have included rare plant mapping, wetland delineation, developing watershed-based plans, hydrologic & hydraulic models, and LID guidance for coastal communities in South Carolina. Katie’s gardening and nature walk buddies are her husband (Robert), daughter (Emma, 8), and son (Ben, 3).

Rebecca Fanning is a restoration hydrologist who specializes in the interface between plants and streams. To restore native plant habitat, she has worked both on the ground as part of California’s Save the Bay wetland restoration team, as well as behind the scenes, contributing technical writing and conducting hydrologic, spatial, and statistical analysis for Robinson Design Engineers with offices in Charleston, SC and Western North Carolina. Currently, Rebecca is launching a non-profit called Community Hydrology, whose mission is to foster land stewards for waterbodies in the Charleston region using the innate capacity of native plants to repair disrupted watershed processes.

Erika Galentin is a Clinical Herbalist consulting from Sovereignty Herbs in Athens & Columbus, OH. She holds a degree in Herbal Medicine from the University of Wales, Cardiff, UK and Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, Glasgow, UK. She is a professional member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) and the American Herbalists Guild (USA). She is also a proud member of Pi Alpha Xi National Honor Society in Horticulture (USA). With her dedication to medicinal plants native to Ohio and the Greater Appalachian region, Erika teaches, lectures and writes on native medicinal plant conservation and applied ecology, propagation, herbalism, and clinical efficacy. She also participates as a member of the Stewardship Committee of Appalachia Ohio Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of land and water in Southeast Ohio.

Matt Gocke

Adam Griffith is the Director of the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR) created to ensure the availability of natural resources for tribal artisans of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Adam earned his Ph.D. in Geography from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a M.S. in Biology from Western Carolina University analyzing the soils where river cane grows for his thesis.  He was a research scientist at the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (PSDS) at WCU from 2008 – 2014 and co-founded the Public Lab in 2011 with 6 others helping secure a $500,000 grant from the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation.  He taught 6th grade science in the Houston, Texas for three years before burning out on teaching and becoming a kayak instructor and ski bum for four years before graduate school.  He doesn’t regret those years.

Jeff Jackson was raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina,  an area rich in both nature and history. Since receiving his BS in Horticulture from Clemson in 1981, he has worked as a landscape designer and environmental consultant.  His areas of interest became native plants and historical materials. Over 20 years ago he began working with cast stone and tabby, an early coastal building material. Incorporating native plant imprints was a natural progression to meld his interests together. He uses his creations to offer his clients something unique for their hardscaper and gardens. His work has been featured in Southern Living Magazine.

Shelby Jackson’s responsibilities at Carolina Native Nursery include better client relations, increasing awareness of plant availability, and sales. As importantly, her eye for overall plant quality demanded at superior garden centers, high-end landscape design and installation firms, and landscape architects is essential to Carolina Native’s continued success. She joined us in 2010 and became part owner in 2014. She was nominated by her peers and selected as one of GPN’s(Greenhouse Product News) 40 Under 40 in 2018. Shelby, a University of Tennessee Horticulture alumnus, came to us after 3 years as Nursery Sales Manager at BB Barns in Asheville. She brings extensive knowledge to our staff in native plants, as they are one of her passions, and many other plants that are well beyond the shrubs and perennials that Carolina Native Nursery currently offers. Her experience besides sales includes speaking and leading seminars, horticultural research in the field and the laboratory, landscape design and consulting. She is an N.C.N.L.A. Certified Plant Professional. She has served on the Hendersonville Tree Commission and is currently on the Horticulture Technology board at Blue Ridge Community College. She also participated on the board for her local greenway, Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway in West Asheville for four years. Shelby loves to travel in her free time and currently lives in Asheville with her husband Jonathan and dogs (Lilly and Pele).

Matt Johnson is the Center Director at the Beidler Forest Audubon Center & Sanctuary. A native of South Carolina, he grew up in Columbia and attended Clemson University from 2003-2009, earning an undergraduate degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Biology, as well as a Masters in Biological Sciences. Matt started working for Audubon South Carolina in 2013 as the Education Manager at Beidler Forest, where he fell in love with the old-growth swamp, the cypress knees, Prothonotary Warblers and Brown Watersnakes! He became Center Director in 2019 and looks forward to carrying on the legacy of environmental education, research, and conservation at Beidler. Matt particularly enjoys leading programs, conducting bird research, and learning more about the cultural history of the land on which Beidler exists today. 

Gary Kauffman is a botanist/ecologist who has been with the USFS for 30 years, all within NC.  He has been working on the Nantahala and Pisgah NFs plan revision for the last 8 years and hopes to get in the field more to remember some of the flora!  

Lenny Lampel is a Natural Resources Supervisor with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources.  He is the Curator for the Dr. James F. Matthews Center for Biodiversity Studies and is also responsible for the management of biological assessments and inventories, the monitoring of federal and state listed rare plant species and the coordination of various fauna and flora studies and projects.  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.

Lauri Lawson

Chris Liloia is a Curator at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, a conservation garden in Chapel Hill. She is responsible for the care of the habitat gardens which represent plant communities of the southeastern United States and display rare and common species in naturalistic settings. She is knowledgeable in the cultivation of native plants and creation of sustainable gardens that are beautiful and brimming with biodiversity. Prior to joining the NCBG staff in 2000, she worked in ecological restoration in NJ and in south Florida.

Annie Martin aka "Mossin’ Annie," infuses her passion for mosses with her knowledge of bryophytes and successful gardening techniques. A nationally-recognized expert in moss landscaping, she offers a unique blend of creative talents and practical experience. Dedicated to promoting the advantages of mosses, Martin is a popular garden lecturer providing informative yet entertaining programs. She is the author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening (Timber Press 2015; translated into Japanese, 2017). A licensed NC landscape contractor and owner of Mountain Moss, Martin cultivates shade and sun moss species at her Mossery in Brevard. Mossin’ Annie creates magic with mosses!

Kathy Matthews is an Associate Professor, Plant Systematics and Director of the Herbarium at Western Carolina University. She specializea in flowering plant systematics, which seeks to explain patterns of diversity among the flowering plants. I mainly study problems in the taxonomy, biogeography, and evolutionary relationships of southeastern and southern Appalachian plant groups. Recent work with collaborators includes the phylogenetic systematics of Sabatia (swamp pink) and Bartonia (screwstem), both of the gentian family, Spigelia (Indian pink) of the Loganiaceae, as well as population genetics of Actaea racemosa (black cohosh) and rivercane (Arundinaria gigantea). My graduate students are studying/have studied the systematics of bush honeysuckle (Diervilla) and Southern Appalachian saxifrages (Micranthes), hybridization in the Trillium erectum complex, and growth characteristics of rivercane ( Arundinaria gigantea). Our research tools include field work, herbarium studies, molecular phylogenetics of DNA sequences, and DNA fragment analysis.

Larry Mellichamp Ph.D., is a Professor of Botany and Horticulture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught for over 38 years. He is also director of the University’s Botanical Gardens which has 10 acres of outdoor gardens including many native plants. The new Mellichamp Natives Terrace Garden demonstrates the use of natives directly for the homeowner. Larry is an expert on native trees and shrubs, and also studies carnivorous plants, especially Sarracenia pitcher plants. He has written many technical and popular articles on plants and gardening, and has co-authored five books: including “The Winter Garden” with Peter Loewer (1997); “Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region” (1999); “Bizarre Botanicals” with Paula Gross (2010), and most recently (2014), “Native Plants of the Southeast (and their garden uses)”. He has traveled extensively in the eastern United States, and has made trips to photograph unusual plants in Costa Rica, South Africa, Borneo, southern Europe, China, and Australia.

Preston Montague is an artist, educator, and landscape designer who developed a passion for the natural world while growing up in the rural foothills of Virginia. Currently, he lives in Durham, North Carolina working on projects that encourage stronger relationships between people and their environment. Preston holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from North Carolina State University as well as bachelor’s degrees in horticulture and fine art. His latest body of work, Codex Carolinum, is a series of didactic botanical illustrations using art and storytelling to foster natural science literacy. Find out more at Carolinanaturalist.com.

Darrell Morrison has been a long-time advocate for the use of native plants  and native plant communities as a basis for designing/restoring/managing landscapes.  He received his MS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969, and taught Landscape Architecture at UW until 1983, when he joined the faculty of the School of Environmental Design at the University of Georgia.  His favorite teaching activity there was a three-week field course on “Native Plant Communities of the Southeast” from 1985 until 2004.  He was a “regular” at the Cullowhee Conference during those years. Upon retiring from UGA in 2004, he moved to NewYork City and lived there for a decade, designing native gardens and landscapes at the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Storm King Art Center. In 2015, he returned to his native Midwest, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is an Honorary Senior Faculty Associate at the University of Wisconsin. He was presented the Scott Medal and Award by Swarthmore College in the Fall of 202

Geoffrey Neal is assistant curator at the Coker Arboretum, a 5 acre ornamental and teaching garden begun in 1903 on the UNC Chapel Hill campus and a part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. He is an ISA certified arborist, an amateur writer of verse, maker of giant bubbles and a regular CNPC attendee over the past 25 years. He lives in Chatham County, NC and loves to climb trees.

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 the Native 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 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 last living founder.

Johnny Randall is Director of Conservation at the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) and adjunct faculty in the UNC-Chapel Hill Program in Environment, Ecology, and Energy (EP3).  He received a BS in biology from UNC-Charlotte, and both a MS and PhD in botany/plant ecology from VA Tech. Johnny served as biology faculty at UNC-Greensboro and at the University of North Florida for a total of 10 years before coming to NCBG in 1998. His primary responsibilities are to oversee the conservation and management of approximately 1,200 acres of natural areas, and administer the Garden’s conservation seed programs and rare plant recovery projects. He also does research on rare plant reintroductions and habitat restoration/rehabilitation, and teaches classes on nature preserve design and management, rare plant biology, conservation biology, pollination ecology, and others. Johnny also serves on several state and local conservation-related boards. 

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.  

Dan Simerloff is the Nancy Gore Hunger Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Tennessee.  He received his A.B. (1964) and Ph.D. (1968) from Harvard University and was a faculty member at Florida State University from 1968 through 1997, when he joined the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee.  His publications number ca. 500 and center on ecology, biogeography, evolution, and conservation biology; much of his research focuses on causes, consequences, and management of biological invasions.  His research projects are on insects, plants, fungi, birds, and mammals. He is co-editor-in-chief of Biological Invasions, senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions (2012), author of Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know (2013), co-editor of Integrating Biological Control into Conservation Practice (2016), and serves on the editorial boards of several journals.  In 2006 he was named Eminent Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America, in 2012 he won the Margalef Prize for research in ecology, and in 2015 he won the Wallace Prize of the International Biogeography Society for lifetime contributions.  He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Anne Spafford

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.

Marc Williams

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.

Jeff Zahner is a horticulturist and botanist who grew up in Highlands, NC, and has a deep insight into the ecology and botany of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. A passion for growing and propagating native plants led to the establishment of Chattooga Gardens, a garden center in Cashiers, NC, that specializes in plant diversity and offers a wide variety of native and non-native plants. To promote knowledge and use of native plants, for over 35 years Jeff has attended, led field trips for and helped steer the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. Jeff’s greatest concern, however, is protection of biodiversity for future generations and since 2006 has served on the Board of the Highlands Cashiers Land Trust that now conserves more than 3,000 acres in Jackson and Macon Counties.

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