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 Coordinator of the Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN). Michelle co-directs the Public Gardens as Sentinels against Invasive Plants initiative and facilitates invasive species information sharing and collaboration across the Midwest. Her background includes over eight years of professional invasive species outreach and management experience, addressing both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. 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.
Dave Borneman was the Natural Area Preservation Manager for the City of Ann Arbor for 28 years, retiring in February, 2022. He now has more time to devote to his private business doing controlled ecological burns throughout the Midwest. Dave is a former board member of the Stewardship Network, the Natural Areas Association, and the Midwest Invasive Plant Network, but still serves on the Steering Committee of the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council. Outside of burn season, he splits his time between Ann Arbor and a newly acquired lake cabin in northeast Michigan.
Lisa Brush has been leading collaborative conservation initiatives in the environmental sector for more than twenty years. In her role as CEO and Founder of The Stewardship Network, she has engaged thousands of professionals and volunteers in identifying community and stewardship needs of the 21st century. She has facilitated the initiation, growth, and ongoing support of networks and collaborations at all scales across the country. Lisa has worked with all volunteer nonprofits to global NGOs; municipal, state, federal and tribal governments; consultants and contractors; students and researchers; private property owners and more. She has facilitated strategic planning sessions, focus groups, citizen task forces, community visioning sessions, and public involvement and feedback meetings with groups ranging in size from four to four hundred. Lisa believes deeply in the power of people to create positive community change and works to support people and institutions in this endeavor.
She has been involved in all aspects of organizational management including: foundation/agency relationships; grant based project funding; budget tracking; contract negotiation, implementation, accountability; staff and board development.
Lisa serves on numerous boards of directors, has a BA in Science in Society from Wesleyan University, an MS from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Great Lakes Leadership Academy.
|Joshua Cohen has worked for the past 24 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 recent ecological surveys of Grand Island, an island befitting of its name.
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.
Katherine Kassouf Cummings
Katherine Kassouf Cummings is a Lebanese American writer and editor born to and living on the ancestral homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires (Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa) as well as the Menominee, Miami, and Ho-Chunk nations. She co-edited the book What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? (University of Chicago Press, 2021) and serves as Managing Editor of digital publications at the Center for Humans and Nature, where she leads the Questions for a Resilient Future and the Editorial Fellows program. She received her BA from Emory University, and she is an alumna of the University of Chicago’s program in editing.
Ashlee Decker is a Restoration Ecologist with the Nature Conservancy (TNC). She supports TNC’s Natural Infrastructure program through partnerships and collaboration, strategically identifying priority projects, acquiring grant funding, and managing wetland restoration projects. Ashlee has a master’s degree in Environmental Science and has been working in the field of ecological restoration and education for over 12 years.
Tom Denbow specializes in water resources planning and design including conservation planning, wetlands, riparian, and stream protection and restoration, and watershed management. Mr. Denbow has served as project manager for environmental planning, ecological restoration, and design-build projects. He has extensive experience in leading completion of planning, design, and technical studies on watershed and habitat restoration design. He has led many public and stakeholder forums and meetings and made presentations to a broad range of stakeholder groups including City Councils and Committees, conservation organizations, and citizens groups on water related topics. Mr. Denbow was the recipient in 2011 of the annual Individual Award by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission for his leadership efforts to restore and protect Lake Erie watersheds for the benefit of protecting Lake Erie. He also was the founding Executive Director of the Chagrin River.
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://northamericanorchidcenter.org/featured-botanical-illustration/ and on the Field Museum and Conservation Research Institute websites with the goal of helping introduce new audiences to field botany. Kathleen has been steward of Hosah Prairie since 2015, and of Grainger Woods in Mettawa, IL since 2003. She believes that close observation of nature can lead to an ongoing relationship that spiritually nurtures both the individual and the natural areas for which they learn to care.
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.
Bob Grese is a Professor Emeritus in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the former director of the University’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. He formerly taught in the landscape architecture program and is a strong advocate of ecologically-based design and ecological restoration. He has researched the work of early landscape architects who advocated such an approach to design, especially the work of O.C. Simonds and Jens Jensen who worked throughout the Midwest and were known for the “Prairie style” of landscape gardening. Bob is the author of Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens and The Native Landscape Reader and co-edited Passion for Peonies with David Michener. He is a Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects as well as in the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. He also is an honorary member of the Garden Club of America and serves as the past president of the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Wild Ones.
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.
Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson, is a Tsimphean/Nicola Anishinawbe originally from Yakima, Washington. She is a Grandmother of the Three Fires Midewewin Lodge. Her responsibilities
include insuring the continuance of the teachings passed on from past generations on into the future.
She is a eighteen-year Sun Dancer, a carrier of the water prayer, a veteran of Standing Rock, and a principal keeper of Anishinaabe wisdom and traditions.
Beatrice retired as Helping Healer for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She was a Montessori Teacher for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe for five years previously and a Tribal Outreach worker for Uniting Three Fires Against Violence in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Her formal education background includes a BA in Social Work from Michigan State University and a BS Degree from Ferris State University in Education. Beatrice studied/apprenticed in
native practices for many years with elders of the community. She is a producer and director of several movies and a member of the Snow Bird Singers hand drum group and the Women of
Traditions Hand Drum Group. She enjoys hunting, gathering and living a traditional lifestyle.
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.
Barb Kipreos recently graduated from UC Irvine with a master’s in Conservation and Restoration Science. She joined the California Landscape Stewardship Network’s JEDI Roundtable while she was an intern with Parks California working on the Bright Spots Initiative, which set out to highlight conservation collaboratives in California that have interwoven JEDI principles into their work. She now is a Climate Justice Fellow at the American Bird Conservancy to explore ways that bird conservation can further climate justice throughout the Americas and co-facilitates the Western Collaborative Conservation Network’s Emerging Leadership Working Group to lower barriers for future conservationists.
Christine Luckasavitch is Madaoueskarini Algonquin and mixed settler, living in her ancestral territory at the headwaters of the Madawaska River. Her work is centered around creating spaces for Indigenous peoples to share their knowledges, both in physical and digital spaces, and encouraging the re-emergence of ancestral kinship ties. She is the owner of Waaseyaa Consulting and Waaseyaa Cultural Tours, two small businesses dedicated to reviving and celebrating Indigenous ancestral knowledge and culture-based practices through educational opportunities. She is the co-owner of Algonquin Motors, a woman-led motorcycle clothing company that celebrates the land now also known as Algonquin Park. Christine is a graduate of Acadia University, and she is currently finishing her Masters Degree at Trent University, her thesis offering a critique of Algonquin Park as a wilderness space and the continued impacts on her Algonquin community. She is also working on her first book, centred around the history of Madaoueskarini Algonquins. Christine was an Editorial Fellow with the Center for Humans and Nature in 2021, during which she published the question “What stories does the land hold?”. She is a member of the Center for Humans and Nature Editorial Advisory Board (2023–2025).
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.
Joe Shorthouse is Emeritus Professor of Entomology and Canadian Environmental Biology with Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. He has studied insects on wild roses since joining Laurentian in 1975. He has edited two books and published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, about 200 semipopular articles, and continues to write and make public presentations on roses, garden insects, the restoration of Sudbury’s smelter-damaged ecosystems, and monarch butterflies. His interest in monarchs began as a teenager in Lethbridge, Alberta when he worked for Fred Urquhart, the discoverer of overwintering sites in Mexico. Joe and his wife use their trailer on Manitoulin Island as a base for studying and photographing natural history. For over 20 years, they have observed monarchs arrive in the spring after crossing Lake Huron, and then watch another population in the fall depart Manitoulin for Mexico. They tag monarchs and delight in involving the public with releases. Joe is on the Steering Committee of the Great Lakes Islands Alliance where he encourages studies of island biodiversity.
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!
Laurel Wee, an alumnus of UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, specialized in Conservation Planning with a Strategic Environmental Communication and Media focus. Her participation in the California Landscape Stewardship Network’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion roundtable began when she was working for Parks California as a Resource Stewardship Intern. During the internship, Laurel researched tools used by park planners to balance public access and resource protection. Laurel is interested in environmental stewardship that connects community engagement, education opportunities, and climate solutions.
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.