Brett Barker is professor of history at UW-Marathon County where he has taught since 2002 He is an avid birdwatcher and has seen over 60 species in his “bird-friendly” yard in northeast Wausau. His enthusiasm and depth of knowledge on a variety of topics including birds, history and gardening make Brett a very popular speaker.



Ben believes that gardeners, through their gardens, can save the world. He is passionate for connecting people to plants, and one another, through public gardens. Ben is most interested in the potential of urban landscapes to provide meaningful, authentic, and transformative experiences through participation and co-creation of green space. Ben is the Director of the Allen Centennial Garden at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A life-long gardener, Ben was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. Prior to this role, Ben worked at Fernwood Botanical Garden in southwest Michigan and the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park.


David Eagan, Former Honorary Fellow in the Department of Botany at UW-Madison.  Currently he is a freelance writer, naturalist and botanist based in Shawano who consults with homeowners and others to help them discover and value the wild “nature” of their land.



Mariette Nowak is the author of the book, “Birdscaping in the Midwest”.  She is also the past director of the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County, where she served for 18 years. An avid birder, she is a board member and newsletter editor for the Lakeland Audubon Society & past board member of the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology.  In addition, she is Founder and President of the Kettle Moraine Chapter of the Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes.  She has also served as a past vice-president of the national organization. In Walworth County, she serves on the Park Committee.


Michael Perry is a New Your Times bestselling author, humorist, playwright, and radio show host from New Auburn, Wisconsin.  Perry’s books include Population 485, The Jesus Cow, Montaigne in Barn Boots and the (non)gardening book Truck: A Love Story. His “Roughneck Grace” column appears weekly in the Wisconsin State Journal and he can be found online at www.sneezingcow.com.

Drawing on his bestselling memoirs and his experiences as a failed gardener, Michael Perry provides a humorous, heartfelt look into his relationship with food of all sorts, from gas station jerky to organic asparagus truffle foam.


Laura Syring holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a Master of Science in Nutritional Science. She has gardened for more than 30 years in greenhouses and in the landscape. Through her company, Earthborn Care, she expertly designs, creates, and maintains landscapes in the Wausau area. Her current favorite gardens are those that provide ingredients for creative cooking and attract pollinators to help sustain nature.


Bernie Williams has been with the Wisconsin DNR for 10 years as a Plant Pest and Disease specialist in Forest Health.  She went to the University of Pittsburgh for undergrad and grad school and bumped into a badger after graduation and has been in Wisconsin ever since.  She loves science and particularly invasive species with her favorite being worms.



Fawn is the owner and floral artist behind Inspired By Nature, based out of Wausau. Flowers are her artistic passion and has been a professional florist since 2001. As a studio florist, Inspired By Nature specializes in weddings and events including sympathy tributes and hands on workshops.  In her designs, locally grown garden flowers are added into the mix whenever possible to help support our local flower farmers and to promote the farm to table movement.  Fawn’s design style has been described as casual elegance with a cottage and organic feel.  In our hands on workshop portion, we will all create lovely floral compote centerpieces utilizing the elements and principals of design and will be inspired by everyday items that may be incorporated into our arrangements.  An informative and fun class to learn how to select and care for fresh flowers and how to design with botanicals from our own gardens!  When Fawn is away from the design bench, she enjoys spending time with her husband Adam and two adorable children, orchestrating arts and craft projects, turning over soil in the garden and growing things, sauce and jam making, refinishing antique furniture, visiting new places in Wisconsin, being a quirky school librarian, eating ice cream and roller skating.  Fawn will be doing a two session (120 minute) hands on workshop for Garden Visions 2019.



While still a Horticulture Science undergrad at the University of Minnesota he started a small business, planting flowers for his professors and their neighbors. That little business evolved into a full-scale design and build landscape contracting company serving all areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Born and raised on a tree nursery and crop farm in Southwestern MN, Joel has a foundation in horticulture and an entrepreneurial spirit.  He earned a bachelor’s degree and ten years ago became a garden book author and winner of the P.J.Redoute award for practical horticulture in 2014 for his best-selling book “Straw Bale Gardens.” Now an award-winning author of four best-sellers on Cool Springs Press for Quarto Publishing, Karsten is working on future projects and speaking regularly around the world. His recent TEDx talk, “Let’s end world hunger with the STRAW BALE GARDENS® method,” has shattered records for downloads and received praise from many of the world’s leaders in the fight to end hunger.

Audience feedback from his appearances attests that whether they are avid gardeners or novices they are impressed with his revolutionary new ideas, humor, inspiring stories and general knowledge of horticulture. His presentations are always fun, very educational, and will inspire the audience to go home, grab a shovel, and change their backyard, making it the envy of the neighborhood!




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