Speakers

ALAN J. BRANHAGEN

 Alan J. Branhagen is Director of Operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum where he supervises capital improvements, horticulture, plant curation, facilities, and information technology. For over 20 years he was Director of Horticulture at Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden and prior to that he had a nearly decade-long duty as Deputy Director of Resource Development for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District in Rockford, Illinois.  Alan Branhagen received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University with emphasis on planning, plants and design with nature.   He wrote The Gardener’s Butterfly Book in 2001 published by the National Home Gardening Club and has written articles for Fine Gardening, Missouri Gardener, Missouri Prairie Journal, Landscape Maintenance and Restoration and Management Notes. In November 2016, Timber Press published his book Native Plants of the Midwest.  Beyond public garden management, Mr. Branhagen is an all-around plantsman and naturalist (specializing in botany, birds and, butterflies) and travels throughout the Midwest and the country visiting gardens and natural areas. He grew over 1,500 taxa of plants at his Missouri garden “Luna Ridge” nestled on 6 acres of woodland and meadow. He is starting a new garden on 2.4 acres in Chaska, Minnesota.

AMY JO DUSICK

Amy Jo Dusick is a practicing restoration ecologist and sustainable landscaper at Good Oak Ecological Services in Madison, WI. Her graduate work focused on the recovery of soil communities following the removal of invasive plants in southern WI woodlands. She is also a native plant proponent, Wisconsin Master Naturalist and amateur mycologist.

SANDY LOTTO

Sandy Lotto was a Naturalist/Teacher at Trees For Tomorrow Natural Resources Specialty School for 18 years before “branching out” to start her own business near Eagle River, WI, Lotto’s Log Cabin Outdoor School. Sandy’s mission is to share her love and knowledge of the outdoors through fun and engaging activities, including rustic-furniture making and cross-country skiing, which are her passions. Since 1999, she’s taught a variety of outdoor skills classes for Nicolet College (Outdoor Adventures and Community Education) and Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW). In 2007, she had a little log cabin moved to her property to serve as a classroom and workshop. Lotto’s Log Cabin Outdoor School offers one-day, half-day and 1-2 hour classes in rustic furniture-making and other outdoor skills, by appointment. Sandy has a B.S. degree in Forestry with a Recreation emphasis from UW-Stevens Point. For more information, see www.lottoslogcabin.com or facebook.com/lottoslogcabin

BILL HEIPP

Bill Heipp is the owner of Moonlight Honey in Wausau, Wisconsin.  He is classified as a Sideliner Beekeeper.  A Sideliner has a full-time job and does beekeeping as a part-time job for income.  Larger than a hobbyist, but too small to be a full-time job.  Bill has been a beekeeper for 7 years. He practices Sustainable Beekeeping. He does not purchase bees from outside sources. He over-winters bees in Wisconsin.  Bill currently manages about 50 hives for honey and queen production. Bill worked for a migratory, commercial beekeeper in Wausau, Wisconsin for 2 years learning the trade of Beekeeping. He breeds and raises queen bees for sale and for use in the operation of Moonlight Honey.  Bill served as the Vice-President of the Central Wisconsin Beekeepers Association for 2 years. Products produced include honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, queen bees, Nucleus starter hives, candles, and personal care products.

ELLEN ECKER OGDEN, KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Ellen Ecker Ogden is a Vermont-based food and garden writer, and a kitchen garden designer who is known for her informative and fun-loving garden talks. Her kitchen garden designs combine artistic elements with classic garden design techniques that elevate a backyard vegetable garden into a European-inspired kitchen garden, based on her book, The Complete Kitchen Garden.  Her kitchen garden designs and articles have been featured in national magazines, including Garden Design, Martha Stewart LivingCountry GardensBetter Homes and GardensHorticultureOrganic Living, Eating WellThe New York Times, and The Boston Globe. She has been a guest on PBS’ Victory Garden and on HGTV as the “Baroness of Basil.” 

BILLIE OLDS

Billie is a business start-up consultant with a passion for food and history.  She is the founder of the Florelly line of edible floral jellies and of Happy Hour cotton candy.  In her spare time she can be found wandering the fields and forests or paddling a kayak in search of new adventures

HEATHER SCHLESSER

Heather Schlesser is a graduate of the University of Illinois, and has worked with the University of Wisconsin – Extension in Marathon County for the last 5 years.  Prior to coming to the University of Wisconsin -Extension Heather worked as a high school Agriculture instructor.  During this time Heather taught greenhouse management classes and worked with her students on developing various ways to garden.  Since joining the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Extension Heather has continued to find ways to cultivate her passion for gardening.  Heather has worked with youth every summer to teach them how to garden and enjoy the produce they have grown.  When Heather is not working she enjoys spending her time with her two young boys and enjoys indoctrinating them in the world of horticulture.

BRIAN SMITH

Dr. Brian R. Smith, grew up on a diverse commercial Horticultural farm in Mitchell, South Dakota. His family grew both produce and Green Industry products including strawberries, raspberries, watermelons, tomatoes, Christmas trees and greenhouse and nursery crops for both retail and wholesale markets. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from South Dakota State University-Brookings and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
Brian Smith is currently a professor of Horticulture and State Extension Commercial Fruit Specialist from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His activities and goals include:
• Director, 28-acre University of Wisconsin-River Falls Fruit Research, Teaching and Extension Facility where he conducts research on small fruit and tree fruit; primarily targeted for the development of new cultivars and the testing of cultivars from other programs for the feasibility of commercial production in the upper Midwest (strawberries, Aronia, grapes, plums, apricots and cherries)
• Integrates research findings into Extension programming via grower newsletters, extension bulletins, grower field days, conferences and presentations
• Teaches commercial fruit and vegetable production courses at UW-River Falls
• Improve profitability of fruit growers via efficiency guidelines and cultural techniques
• Educate growers on Best Management Practices and improving sustainability
• Assist growers in starting new businesses
Smith has received numerous awards for his contributions including: 2014- Outstanding Faculty Award in the UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and honored nationally with the 2014 Teaching Award of Merit from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) in recognition of meritorious efforts in College teaching; the all-campus Paul B. and Robert Dykstra Faculty Excellence Award in 2012, for his role in research, creative and scholarly activity; the WiSys Technology Foundation Innovation Scholar Award, 2006, for exemplary work in development of the BlackIce™ plum, and he was named a Wisconsin Idea Fellow in 2004-2005 by the University of Wisconsin System for extraordinary public service on behalf of the University.

STAN TEKIELA

Naturalist, wildlife photographer and writer Stan Tekiela is the originator of the popular state-specific field guides such as Birds of (state name) Field Guide, Wildflowers of (state name), and Trees of (state name). Over the past three decades Stan has authored more than 130 field guides, nature appreciation books and wildlife audio CDs for nearly every state in the nation, presenting many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, trees, wildflowers and cacti.

Holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural History from the University of Minnesota and as an active professional naturalist for more than 25 years, Stan studies and photographs wildlife throughout the United States and has received various national and regional awards for his books and photographs.

Also a well-known columnist and radio personality, his syndicated column appears in over 20 newspapers and his wildlife programs are broadcast on a number of Midwest radio stations. He is a member of the North American Nature Photography Association and Canon Professional Services along with many other professional organizations.

PAUL WHITAKER

Paul is a Professor of Biological Sciences at UW Marathon County, with graduate degrees in entomology and a plant sciences minor from UW-Madison. At UWMC, he has taught botany, ecology, animal biology, entomology, and an interdisciplinary course on organic agriculture. He has made numerous presentations for master gardeners, garden clubs, community garden groups, and at organic farming conferences. In addition, he has served on the board of the Monk Botanical Gardens in Wausau since 2004 and currently chairs its Grounds Committee. In the summer, he can often be found in his large vegetable garden, admiring the incredible survival and reproductive strategies of weeds and insects before deciding to dispatch them or, in some cases, let them live.

 

 

 

INGA WITSCHER

A passionate dairy farmer, Inga owns and operates a small organic dairy farm near Osseo, Wisconsin. When she’s not setting up pastures for their cows to graze, milking the 15 Jerseys, making cheese with her father, or indulging her passions for gardening and cooking, Inga collaborates with her team to develop narratives for Around the Farm Table. After growing up on her family’s dairy farm on the West Coast, making cheese on the East Coast, she is thrilled to now be in the middle of the country, home to truly happy cows, and a vibrant agriculture all of which she loves to celebrate Around the Farm Table.  Around the Farm Table takes viewers through our farming landscape to shine a spotlight on Midwestern farmers and artisan food producers. The show is designed to uplift our understanding of sustainable farming practices through stories, recipes and information all delivered with a dose of fun, entertainment and original music. Our host, Inga Witscher, is a fourth-generation organic dairy farmer whose knowledge and disarming charm gets even the most quiet farmers to join in the conversation. Driven to seek out the best ingredients our region has to offer, each episode follows Inga as she gathers what she needs to produce a meal that celebrates our landscape and our appetites, Around the Farm Table.

ROB ZIMMER

Rob Zimmer is an award-winning nature and garden columnist and Master Gardener who has written for many daily newspapers throughout Wisconsin. He is also the author of the books, Voices of the Wind: Four Seasons in Wild Wisconsin, Wild Seasons: The Beauty of Native Wildflowers, Reflecting Nature in Black and White and Shadows and Light: Showcasing a Hosta Love Affair.

 

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