The Stewardship Network Conference #16
This year's event will be conducted February 2nd & 3rd, 2023 and marks our third consecutive online session after a long in-person tradition. Each year since 2008, we've assembled this fantastic gathering of regional and national caretakers of nature to share ideas, challenge our thinking, and leave energized for the seasons ahead, bolstered by the knowledge that none of us are doing this vital work alone. We hope you'll join us!
Dr. Alison Forrestel
Supervisory Vegetation Ecologist
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore
"My passion and expertise are in conservation and land management with a focus on fire and forest ecology, ecological restoration, climate change and California natural history. I am committed to science-based management and thinking at the landscape scale."
(More speakers coming soon!)
|Allegra is a second year Master’s student in the School for Environment and Sustainability, focusing on Ecosystem Science and Management. Allegra graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors in Earth and Environmental Sciences accompanied with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Having grown up in Michigan, she’s enjoyed deepening her connection to the land and expanding her knowledge of our ecosystems through field-based plant and soil ecology courses. She hopes to continue building upon and applying this knowledge in field-based work that enhances the integrity of natural communities in the face of climate change while promoting sustainable relationships between people and the natural world.|
Sara Barker is the Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative program director at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She helps provide strategic planning, resources, technical assistance, planning tools, and funding opportunities to advance the pace and impact of land trust protection and stewardship efforts. She also assists land managers and practitioners in managing habitat for priority bird species and strives to build capacity for the land trust and private lands community around birds.
|Todd Barkman earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. studying various aspects of plant biology over the last 30 years. Most of his focus on systematics and population genetics has been on plants of Malaysia.|
Michelle is the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s full-time Coordinator. She began in this role in March 2022. She is as a co-Director of the Public Gardens as Sentinels against Invasive Plants Initiative, and served as the Administrator of the 2022 Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference. Prior to joining MIPN, Michelle served as the Executive Director of the Ingham Conservation District in Michigan. As part of this position, she spearheaded and supervised the Mid-Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (2015-2021). Her background also includes experience in environmental research and regulation. Michelle holds a B.S in Biology from the University of Michigan and an M.S. in Environmental Geoscience from Michigan State University.
|Micah Blake-Smith is an education specialist at the Belle Isle Nature Center. He has a background in agriculture education and youth outdoor engagement. Previously he served as an Americorps VISTA at the University of Michigan’s Office of Metropolitan Impact, where he coordinated community engagement efforts for OMI and the SEMI Wild Network Youth Career Pathways committee. He worked to create long-lasting bonds between the committee and local youth-serving organizations with the goal of providing nature-based educational programs for their summer youth programs. Currently, Micah oversees the Environmental Stewardship Internship program.|
Joshua Cohen has worked for the past 23 years as an ecologist with Michigan Natural Features Inventory. His primary duties involve refining and revising the natural community classification through ecological inventory and sampling, literature research, and data analysis. He is responsible for classifying conservation targets and prioritizing areas for conservation and restoration; creating and delivering biodiversity and ecosystem management trainings; and designing and conducting vegetative sampling, ecological mapping and modeling, monitoring, and surveys for natural communities and rare species. Cohen is the lead author of A Field Guide to the Natural Communities of Michigan and a recent article in Diversity entitled “Assessing the Ecological Need for Prescribed Fire in Michigan Using GIS-Based Multicriteria Decision Analysis: Igniting Fire Gaps”. His presentation focuses on Great Lakes islands surveys, which have been some of the most amazing and challenging of his career.
Alice Colville is a Master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, pursuing a degree in Geospatial Data Science. She has expertise in GIS, Remote Sensing, Natural Resource Management, and Coastal Ecology. Alice’s desire to deeply understand her surrounding environment began at Texas A&M University, where she earned a BS in Ocean and Coastal Resources. She’s interested in how the use of geospatial applications can demonstrate the interconnections between Earth’s systems, anthropogenic forces, and climate change. However, of all Earth’s systems, wetlands are where her heart persists. As a GIS Intern with Ducks Unlimited she is encouraged to explore her interests further in wetland conservation and environmental stewardship. She intends to pursue a career restoring and protecting coastal ecosystems where she may utilize and translate her knowledge of freshwater and marine environments using GIS and Remote Sensing applications.
Liam Connolly is a student at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Management and Environmental Justice. Liam aims to use his work with St. Pierre Wetland to inform future professional work engaging communities to develop and implement stewardship plans.
Tom Gardali, CEO of Audubon Canyon Ranch, has worked in the field of conservation for nearly thirty years, focusing on climate change, ecological restoration, at-risk species, and collaborative conservation. His impact includes developing innovative ways to design restoration projects that are resilient to climate change resulting in thousands of acres implemented; partnering with local, state, and national organizations and agencies to develop and deploy practices that increase ricelands as surrogate wetlands for migratory birds; and facilitating the development of the California Landscape Conservation Partnership Strategic Plan. Tom has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications. He has been recognized as an American Ornithological Society Fellow and for excellence in science by the Central Valley Joint Venture. He is a board member of two Joint Ventures – California Central Coast and San Francisco Bay.
Kathleen Marie Garness
|Kathleen is a scientific affiliate of the Field Museum and science and conservation affiliate of Morton Arboretum. Her illustrations are featured by the Smithsonian at https://
Cooperative Extension Specialist in Ecological Restoration. Interested in restoration, drought and puns.
|Amy Greene, nature centers director, oversees operations and programming for the Belle Isle Nature Center, supporting stewardship, connection, and equitable access to nature for metro Detroiters. Before joining the Detroit Zoological Society, she spent 13 years teaching science in the metro Detroit area.|
Laura Gumpper is a Master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability with a focus on Conservation Ecology, Ecosystem Management, and Geospatial Data Science. She worked as an engineering professional for several years after earning her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University and pursued advanced education so that she could transition into an environmental profession. Having grown up in the Metro Detroit area, Laura is passionate about environmental stewardship in Southeast Michigan and currently serves this community through her Master’s Capstone project focused on wetland restoration and as a Jr. Restoration Ecologist/Environmental Consultant for Natural Community Services. She has worked on a variety of projects aimed at restoring the biological function and beauty of Metro Detroit ecosystems, natural resources, and green infrastructure, and plans to continue performing this type of work upon graduation in 2023.
Kimberly Heumann is a student in the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability pursuing a Master of Science in Behavior, Education, and Communication. Her work focuses on community engagement within sustainable ecosystem management. Kimberly is involved with the interdisciplinary Collaborative Adaptive Management of St. Pierre Wetland master’s project. Following graduation in April 2023, she is excited to pursue a career in creating connections between groups and individuals and enhancing education and engagement opportunities for the benefit of both people and the planet.
|Rachel Kaufmann is a student at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Management. Experiences in teaching, farming, and trail work motivate her studies as well as her work to mobilize stakeholders around the stewardship of St. Pierre Wetland. Upon graduating, Rachel aims to engage public and private landowners to plan and implement strategies for restoring, monitoring, and managing Michigan’s natural communities.|
Anna is a second-year Master’s student at University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability studying Ecosystem Science and Management. She graduated from Regis University in Colorado with a B.S. in Environmental Science & Biology. After graduation, she plans to work in place-based environmental education that seeks to understand the socio-ecological systems of reciprocity.
|In 1998, David founded PlantWise, a business dedicated to creating and restoring native ecosystems and plant communities. Towards that end, David works with private and public landowners to develop ecological management plans, conduct plant and animal surveys, and with staff, implement all aspects of natural area management.
Managing wild and cultivated native landscapes is a cornerstone of this work. David has almost 30 years of working on such sites. David coordinates all burn and restoration activities at PlantWise
David received a Master’s degree in Natural Resources (forest ecology and ecosystem management from the University of Michigan, though most of his “real learning” has happened in the field
Brewster is the Chair of the Ohio River Way Board. He has spent 40+ years as an environmental activist and political organizer in Greater Cincinnati. An avid kayaker, he is the founder of the Ohio River Paddlefest, the largest paddling event in the U.S. and on the board of Adventure Crew, the sponsoring nonprofit that works in 25 innercity high schools to get urban teens out into nature to paddle, hike, bike, fish, ski and camp. Brewster was the executive director of Green Umbrella, Greater Cincinnati’s sustainability alliance and worked on the staff of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland as his SW Ohio Regional Director. He is on the board of the Mill Creek Alliance and the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund.
Vince is an accelerated Master’s program student attending University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, and is specializing in three sectors: “Ecosystem Science and Management”, “Environmental Justice”, and “Behavior, Education, and Communication.” Vince graduated from University of Michigan’s School of Literature, Science, and the Arts with a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a specialization in Land and Resource Management. Throughout his career, he hopes to assist government agencies in promoting environmental justice, inclusion, and equity with Indigenous Tribes and local communities throughout conservation.
Sheila completed her MS and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, and currently teaches graduate level courses in Ecology, Conservation, and Restoration at UM School for the Environment and Sustainability (SEAS). She has served as a consultant in adaptive management and currently pursues collaborative applied research on sustainable approaches to invasive species management and on the ways managed and built environments (from farms to yards) can support biodiversity and ecosystem function and services. In all endeavors, she seeks to integrate academic activities with the real-world data needs and challenges of natural resource planners and managers.
Lori Seele works for The Stewardship Network and coordinates the Duluth CISMA since its origination in 2017. For the past nineteen years she has worked for NGO’s and agencies including invasive species management, environmental education & community organizing. Although Lori has valued her rich experiences alongside the Indigenous People from Alaska to Central America, she feels priviledged to be back home working to protect the boreal forest along Lake Superior.
Sam is a project manager for the Great Lakes Commission’s aquatic invasive species program. In this role, she coordinates the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative, the Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework, the Invasive Mussel Collaborative and the European Frog-bit Collaborative, as well as providing staff support to the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species.
Karen Vanek is the Division Manager for Forest Agriculture Nursery as well as the Senior Project Coordinator for Restoration Agriculture Development, both headquartered in Viola, WI. For the past thirteen years, she has been been a part of designing and installing food systems from intensive quarter-acre edible landscapes to dynamic ecological agricultural systems spanning hundreds of acres and tens of thousands of crop-producing trees and shrubs with emphasis on hazelnuts and chestnuts in establishing integrative staple foods cropping systems.
Forest Agriculture Nursery supplies crop-producing tree and shrub seedlings that have gone through an extensive adaptive breeding program and chosen for their compatibility in many kinds of agricultural systems. Restoration Agriculture Development performs site consultations, designs and installations for establishing ecological agricultural systems that provide ecological restoration, the foundation that supports regenerative agriculture and associated enterprises that improve the asset value of the real estate in question.
Karen’s studied Biology and Ecology at Loyola University Chicago as well as Ecological Economics and Design at Prescott College. She is certified in Ecological Design from the Ecosa Institute and had been a lab technician in Terrestrial Ecology at Argonne National Laboratory and Protein Biochemistry at the University of Chicago. Karen also began surveying forests, savannas and prairies through the Student Conservation Association and carries on these practices to this day!
|Foster is currently in his third year as a Master’s of Landscape Architecture student at the University of Michigan. He previously graduated from Andrews University, located in Southwest Michigan, with a B.S. in Horticulture, a concentration in Environmental and Landscape Design and a minor in Photography. Over the past six years, he has worked with a variety of landscape architecture firms across the country, gathering exposure to large-scale commercial projects and high-end residential design. For Foster, value is found in creating spaces which satisfy functional requirements, while upholding an aesthetic which evokes emotional responses to the sense of a place.|
Andy Vander Yacht
|Dr. Andrew (Andy) L. Vander Yacht is an Assistant Professor of Silviculture & Forest Ecosystem Management in the Department of Sustainable Resources Management at SUNY ESF. He teaches silviculture, fire ecology and management, and forest management for wildlife. Broadly, he seeks to: 1) understand how disturbance, particularly fire, affects the structure, composition, health, and resiliency of temperate forested ecosystems, and 2) how this knowledge can inform modern forest management. Specifically, he works to advance silvicultural practices in NY and beyond as he explores historical disturbances in forests, plant-soil-fire feedbacks, forest carbon management, fuel ecology, pyric herbivory, the restoration of disturbance-dependent biodiversity, and fire effects on ticks and tick-borne disease. Before SUNY ESF, Andy earned a B.S. in Biology at Hope College (Holland, MI) and M.S. (Wildlife Science) and Ph.D. (Natural Resources) degrees from The University of Tennessee.|
An educator for 32 years. A school administrator for 12 years. I have worked with hundreds of elementary and secondary school children in converting schools in eco friendly places of learning.
Now in its 16th year, The Stewardship Network Conference is the moment where theory meets practice and curiosity leads to solutions. Each annual convening unifies hundreds of professionals, students, and volunteers from a dazzling array of environmental fields. Here they share their setbacks and successes, compare advancements and techniques, and revel in diverse perspectives and creative expressions — all in support of our shared mission to care for the natural world.
About The Stewardship Network
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI, The Stewardship Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with an award-winning, 20-year history of connecting, equipping, and mobilizing people and organizations to care for land and water in their communities. As a flagship program of the organization, TSN Conference embodies our vision to "build a diverse network of connected communities empowered to care for our environment together, now and forever."