Mt Cuba Center
Mt Cuba Center

Class Acts

Lee Armillei

Lee Armillei, APLD, is the principal landscape designer with Athyrium Design and has 10+ years of design-build- maintenance experience. She holds a BS in Ornamental Horticulture and Environmental Design from Delaware Valley University and designs carefully curated residential landscapes steeped in environmentally friendly practices.

Nancy Bell

Nancy Bell is the Education and Garden Coach Coordinator at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin. She has Certificates of Merit in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Longwood Gardens.

Daryl Beyers

Daryl Beyers has more than 25 years of professional horticultural experience and is the Coordinator of the Certificate Program in Gardening at the New York Botanical Garden. He has been a staff writer, photographer, and editor for Fine Gardening magazine and has published articles on gardening in Horticulture and HGTV Magazine.

Leah Brooks

Leah Brooks is Mt. Cuba Center’s Public Programs Assistant. She is a University of Delaware graduate with dual bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and Wildlife Ecology. Her passion is sharing the joy of nature and native gardening with others.

Jeffrey “Doc” Cheskin

Jeffrey “Doc” Cheskin has been making ciders for over a decade and has won some of the highest honors given to a cidermaker in the US, including producing one of the top 15 ciders in America in 2020. He founded Liquid Alchemy Beverages in 2012 with his partner Terri Sorantino, and their hard ciders are now available in over 20 locations throughout Delaware.

Michele Christiano

Michele Christiano is currently a gardener at a private estate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from West Chester University and a Certificate of Merit in Ornamental Plants at Longwood Gardens. She has worked in public gardens for most of her career, including Winterthur and Longwood Gardens.

George Coombs

George Coombs is the Director of Horticulture at Mt. Cuba Center. Previously he was Manager of Research at the Center in which he trialed cultivars and species of native plants to determine their horticultural and ecological value.

Bill Cullina

Bill Cullina is the F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum. He is a well-known author, lecturer, and authority on North American native plants. His books include Wildflowers; Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines; Native Ferns, Mosses, and Grasses; and Understanding Perennials.

Andrea Cummins

Andrea Cummins is the Education Specialist at Mt Cuba Center. She has a MS/BS in Environmental Horticulture and Botany from Colorado State University and Certificates in Wetland Ecology and Management from University of Washington. She has worked in many aspects of environmental education and conservation spanning a 20- year career.

Lucy Dinsmore

Lucy Dinsmore is a horticulturist and certified arborist who loves learning and teaching about all things growing. She worked in public gardens for ten years, at the Morris Arboretum and Chanticleer Gardens, and now runs Plant Lady Lucy, a garden design and consulting business in Kennett Square. Her first job as a young tween was at a garden center, and she later earned her master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota.

Madeline Dobbs

Madeline Dobbs is the founder of the More BV Homes Team at Century 21 Emerald. She is the author of How to Sell Your House in 30 Days, a course that educates sellers on how to prepare their homes to appeal to today’s buyers.

Tracey Eltringham

Tracey Eltringham stepped onto the yoga mat over 12 years ago; and knew that this system of self-care was going to be an important key in helping her to find her way “home”. She strives to help yoga feel approachable to all she encounters with an energy that is encouraging, authentic, and has a hint of playfulness as she inspires you on your own journey.

Michael Fahey

Michael Fahey, a co-founder of the Awareness Center in Newark, is in his 45th year as a yoga practitioner. He instructs at FIT in Wilmington, and his classes emphasize the essentials of Iyengar yoga—focused attention on breathing and precise postural alignment—in a supportive and fun atmosphere.

Jessamine Finch

Jessamine Finch, PhD, is a Research Botanist at Native Plant Trust and manages the Seed Bank of the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) at Garden in the Woods. Her research interests focus on the intersection of seed ecology, land management, and climate change. Jessamine holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Smith College and a PhD in Plant Biology and Conservation from Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden.

Natasza Fontaine

Natasza Fontaine has volunteered at several conservation organizations, including NYC Audubon, and worked in the Herbarium department at the New York Botanical Garden. Her love of plants has always been deeply intertwined with her love of birds. This passion inspired her current thesis work at Florida State University on understanding the relationship between plant diversity and avian habitat associations. In addition, Natasza has a passion for behavioral bioacoustics and how bioacoustics are used to monitor biodiversity.

Scott Freedman

Scott Freedman is Mt. Cuba Center’s Grounds and Plant Health Care Specialist. Prior to this he managed a commercial maintenance company, where he oversaw operations, equipment maintenance, scheduling, and purchasing.

Shelby French

As the Propagation Manager at Mt. Cuba Center, Shelby oversees plant propagation, wild collections, and various research projects. She earned a degree in Entrepreneurship from Delaware Technical Community College and is a 2002 graduate of Longwood Gardens’ Professional Gardener Program.

Anisa George

Anisa George is a permaculture designer and certified guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides. Her approach to forest therapy grows organically out of her experience with collaborative theater: marrying playful elements of ensemble-created performance with the mindful presence and gentle pace of the forest therapy tradition.

Nichole Gerding

Nichole Gerding owns Thankful Sage Farm School, which specializes in carefully crafted small batch organic soaps and candles using historic methods and, when possible, local ingredients. Nichole developed her heritage skills at Colonial Williamsburg and she was a finalist in Martha Stewart Living’s “American Made” contest in 2014 and 2015.

Mark Gormel

Mark Gormel is Horticultural Coordinator for the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. He is a nature photographer, frequent lecturer, and landscape consultant who specializes in the design, installation, and management of native plant meadows.

David Greaves

David Greaves is a biologist at the EPA, wildlife photographer, and founder of Nature Under Your Nose (NUYN) brand. His love for nature and the outdoors was discovered while growing up in the Washington, D.C. area. He uses his photography and his NUYN brand to encourage people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds to explore and enjoy the nature they can find all around them.

Rachelan Griffin

Rachelan Griffin is a trained Herbalist and graduate student of the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies. She has a special interest in “kitchen medicine”, as well as herbal medicine for children and special populations, and a background as an educator.

Annie Guilfoyle

Annie Guilfoyle is the principal of Creative Landscapes in West Sussex (UK) and an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Silver Medal winner. Her design style varies from contemporary to traditional and urban to rural. She teaches at Great Dixter and West Dean in the UK, lectures throughout Europe and the USA, and is a regular contributor to Gardens Illustrated. With Noel Kingsbury, Annie established Garden Masterclass, one-day workshops taught by some of the most innovative people in the gardening world. She sits on the RHS selection panel for show gardens and judges at garden shows in Denmark, Italy, and Russia.

Eileen Hazard

Eileen Hazard is the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at Mt. Cuba Center, promoting our mission of ecological gardening and habitat conservation to surrounding communities while overseeing a robust volunteer program.

Amy Highland

Amy Highland obtained her degree in Public Horticulture from Purdue University and is currently the Director of Collections and Conservation Lead at Mt. Cuba Center. She manages both living and non-living collections, focusing on expanding the genetic diversity of the gardens and coordinating the Center’s conservation efforts.

Mark Highland

Mark Highland received an MS from the Longwood Graduate Program, focusing on compost and potting soil. He is the founder and president of The Organic Mechanic Soil Company, LLC, a local supplier of organic, peat-free soils. Mark is the author of the recently published Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally.

Duncan Himmelman

Duncan Himmelman, PhD, is the former Education Manager at Mt. Cuba Center. He earned his doctorate in Ornamental Horticulture at Cornell University, taught college for 24 years, and has contributed to a number of horticultural publications. Duncan managed a 20-acre estate in Greenwich, CT and has designed landscapes for both private and public clients in New York City, Toronto, and Chicago.

Sam Hoadley

Sam Hoadley is the Manager of Horticultural Research at Mt. Cuba Center where he evaluates native plant species, old and new cultivars, and hybrids in the Trial Garden. Prior to working at Mt. Cuba, he was the lead horticulturist for Longwood Gardens’ Hillside Garden. He earned his degree in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture from the University of Vermont.

Chris Hoess

Chris Hoess teaches biology and biochemistry at Delaware Technical Community College and is Chair of the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens. His interests include ferns, trilliums, plant phylogenetics, and the management and restoration of serpentine ecosystems.

Heather Holm

Heather Holm is a biologist, pollinator conservationist, and award-winning author. In addition to assisting with native bee research projects, she informs and educates audiences nationwide, through her writing and many presentations, about the fascinating world of native pollinators and beneficial insects, and the native plant communities that support them. Her latest book, Wasps, was published in February 2021. Heather’s expertise includes the interactions between native pollinators and native plants, and the natural history and biology of native bees and predatory wasps occurring in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Heather is a National Honorary Director of Wild Ones. She also serves on the board of the Friends of Cullen Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary, a 501(c)3 non-profit. She lives in Minnesota with her husband.

Renée Kemmerer

Renée Kemmerer is Mt. Cuba Center’s Upper Naturalistic Gardens Horticulturist who continues her lifelong dream of working with native plants and exploring their natural communities. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware.

Steven Kristoph

Steven Kristoph, widely known for his encyclopedic knowledge of plants, owns Steven Kristoph Nursery and has been an adjunct instructor at Rutgers University for more than 25 years. He also runs a garden design company that provides a full range of services to commercial and residential customers.

Faith Kuehn

Faith B. Kuehn has spent most of her career working on pollinator conservation, invasive species control, and pest management. Her current project is Green Cabinet, focusing on pollinator conservation and therapeutic gardening at Planting Hope Gardens.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC, is an accredited T’ai Chi Chih instructor, personal trainer, and nutritional counselor. Sculpt Your Life, her private practice, provides a unique blend of customized exercise routines, solid nutritional advice, and movement-based relaxation principles for a diverse population of clients.

Serenella Linares

Serenella Linares is Director of Adult Programs at Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and Co-Chair of Naturally Latinos. Serenella is dedicated to sparking curiosity about nature and inspiring nature stewardship. She holds a BS in Biology from Universidad Metropolitana de Puerto Rico, an MS in Atmospheric Science from Howard University, and has graduate training in mycology from UMD.

Holly Merker

Holly Merker is an avid birder, a birding instructor and guide for National Audubon and the American Birding Association, and the lead eBird data reviewer for Pennsylvania. When not out birding or leading birding tours, Holly teaches watershed ecology to thousands of students in Downingtown, PA, schools.

Nedda Moqtaderi

Nedda Moqtaderi has spent more than a decade researching the history of the Mt. Cuba Center property. She received her M.A. from the University of Delaware/ Winterthur Program in Early American Culture and has experience in historic preservation, oral history, archaeology, museum education, and archival collections management.

Samantha Nestory

Samantha Nestory is a naturalist and horticulturist at Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden in Villanova, PA. She holds ecology and entomology degrees from the University of Delaware and is passionate about ecological gardening, native plants, and insect conservation.

Ken Norman

Ken Norman, AIFD, PFCI, is a third-generation florist and has been a featured designer at the Philadelphia Flower Show. He conducts hands-on workshops, lectures, and presentations for professional and public audiences.

Kelly D. Norris

Kelly D. Norris is one of the leading horticulturists of his generation. An award-winning author and plantsman, Kelly’s work in gardens has been featured in The New York Times, Organic Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Fine Gardening, and Garden Design and in numerous local and regional media appearances. His passion for planting at the intersections of horticulture and ecology has culminated in the book New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden which debuted in 2021. Kelly also presents plants for Cottage Farms Direct on QVC and lectures widely to consumer and industry audiences.

Serah Pesce

Serah Pesce is an Assistant Horticulturist in the Formal Gardens at Mt Cuba Center. She holds a BS in Landscape Contracting, Design/Build from Pennsylvania State University and is a Delaware Nature Society Certified Habitat Steward. Serah’s own certified backyard wildlife habitat was featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Outdoor Delaware. Serah has also created flower arrangements for weddings over the past 2 decades and has extensive experience in floral design.

Steve Pyne

Steve Pyne is a Greenhouse Assistant at Mt. Cuba and works in the Victorian Fernery at Morris Arboretum. His current projects include propagating ferns, lycopods, and terrestrial orchids.

Charlie Reidinger

Charlie Reidinger is a Grounds Maintenance Technician at Mt. Cuba Center. A native of Newark, DE, he worked in Arizona and California constructing and maintaining trails for the American Conservation Experience for the past ten years.

Cheryl Salatino

Cheryl Salatino is the principal designer and owner of Dancing Shadows Garden Design, a residential landscape design and services firm. Cheryl Salatino is a Certified Landscape Designer and a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist (MCH); she received her certificate in landscape design from the Radcliffe Seminars Landscape Design Program of Harvard University.

Matthew Sarver

Matthew Sarver received a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and is an Ecological Society of America Certified Senior Ecologist. He has more than 15 years of field experience in wildlife biology, entomology, and land management.

Margaret Saylor

Margaret Saylor is the editor/designer of ASBA’s The Botanical Artist journal. She earned a Certificate in Botanical art and Illustration, with distinction, from the NYBG.

Megan Schiff

Megan Schiff is an Education Assistant at Mt. Cuba Center where she manages the internship program. She has a master’s degree in Entomology and enjoys learning about the natural world.

Connie Schmotzer

Connie Schmotzer is the Consumer Horticulture Educator for Penn State Extension in York County. She coordinates the county Master Gardener Program and the statewide Pollinator Friendly Garden Certification Program.

Lou Schurter

Lou Schurter is a Natural Lands Steward at Mt Cuba where he has managed flora and fauna since 1993.

Joe Sebastiani

Joe Sebastiani is the Ashland Nature Center Manager for the Delaware Nature Society. He is passionate about birds and wildlife, founded the Ashland Hawk Watch, and edits Delaware eBird, an online checklist program, for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Sara Setzer

Sara Setzer is a fiber artist who specializes in the art of felt work. Inspired by nature, she creates eco-dyed and printed scarves, wraps, and collars using natural materials and leaves.

Nathan Shampine

Nate Shampine, CERP, is Mt. Cuba Center’s Natural Lands Manager responsible for implementing land conservation practices and developing healthy and functional ecosystems. He is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and he is also a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner through the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart, PhD, was raised in Newcastle, England and received a doctorate in ornithology from the University of Leicester. He has conducted research on tree swallows and bluebirds and how local land management activities are affecting bird numbers and diversity throughout the year. Ian is currently an Ornithologist at the Delaware Nature Society.

Derek Stoner

Derek Stoner is a past president of the Delmarva Ornithological Society, enjoys being out in nature, and is involved in improving land for floral and faunal biodiversity. His photographs and articles have been published in books, regional newspapers, nature magazines, and blogs.

Clay Stradley

Clay Stradley is the Custom Potting Manager at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, DE. He has an MSc in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants from the University of Edinburgh and has a strong interest in native plants and their conservation.

Cathy Stragar

Cathy Stragar currently manages the Plant Protection and Weed Management’s bio control program and supervises the greenhouse and plant pathology lab for the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). Before starting at MDA in 2016 she worked in various field biology positions including projects with the National Park Service, USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. She graduated with a BS in Horticulture Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and then a Masters in Entomology from the University of Delaware in 2008. She is a lifelong naturalist and educator, leading programs with the Audubon Naturalist Society regularly, and annually with a number of other groups.

Jenna Webster

Jenna Webster is a designer with Larry Weaner Landscape Associates where she works on meadow and habitat plans for public parks and preserves as well as landscape master plans for residential properties. She holds a Master of Science in Ecological Design from the Conway School.

Jim White

Jim White currently serves as the Senior Fellow for Land and Biodiversity Management at the Delaware Nature Society, where he has worked for 35 years. In addition to insects, amphibians and reptiles, Jim is also keenly interested in owls. He has led many field trips in pursuit of amphibians and presents programs on them throughout our area using his own photography.

Dan Jaffe Wilder

Dan Jaffe Wilder is the Ecological Horticulturist for Norcross Wildlife Foundation specializing in native plant ecology, plant propagation, wildlife habitat construction, and native edible landscapes. His professional experience has ranged from nurseries to botanical gardens to wildlife refuges. A prolific photographer and author, Dan’s book Native Plants for New England Gardens was released in 2018.

Donna Wiley

Donna Wiley is the Formal Gardens Horticulturist at Mt. Cuba Center. She has a keen eye for color and design with expertise in container gardening and floral arranging.

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