Mt Cuba Center
Mt Cuba Center

Class Acts

Kathy Andrzejewski

Kathy Andrzejewski (MEd, HT) is a certified Horticulture Therapist. She earned her certification through the Chicago Botanic Garden and is also a Delaware Master Naturalist. She enjoys using her knowledge to have people of all ages experience the health and wellness benefits that result from engaging with nature.

Susan Barton

Susan Barton, PhD, is an extension specialist and professor in the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Delaware. She helped develop the Plants for a Livable Delaware program and, in 2015, received the Land Ethics Award in the residential category from Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve for her work on a sustainable demonstration project in New Castle County.

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.

Kelly Billing

Kelly Billing is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist with more than 32 years of experience in the water gardening industry. She compiled and maintains the Aquatic Plant Invasive Species List for the nursery trade and is coauthor of The Water Gardener’s Bible and The Lotus: Know It and Grow It.

Eileen Boyle

Eileen Boyle is the former Director of Conservation and Research at Mt. Cuba Center. She loves teaching, especially about plants and their relationships with birds and butterflies. Previously, she was the Director of Horticulture at the Philadelphia Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden.

Kesha Braunskill

Kesha Braunskill works for the Delaware Forest Service is the Urban and Community Forestry Program coordinator. In her position she provides technical, educational and financial assistance to the communities of Delaware. She is a certified arborist and works to build the States tree canopy through proper tree planting and proper maintence. Kesha has a bachelors degree from University of Maryland and masters degree from Delaware State University and has worked for the Delaware Forest Service for 10 years.

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.

Beth Castelletti

Beth Castelletti is an Horticulturist working in the Upper and Middle Naturalistic gardens at Mt. Cuba Center. She earned a degree in Sustainable Horticulture from the Community College of Baltimore County.

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.

Louise Clarke

Louise Clarke obtained a BS in Environmental Design and Horticulture from Temple University and is the steward of The Morris Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm. She lectures on numerous plant-centric topics, leads creative workshops, and tends to a home garden of native perennials, bulbs, and unusual vines.

Andrew Conboy

Andrew is passionate about trees and their immense environmental benefits. He is an ISA Certified Arborist currently working as the Urban Forestry Fellow at the Morris Arboretum. In 2020, he started a non-profit organization to plant native trees and restore natural lands in the greater Philadelphia area. He enjoys creating environmental video content for TikTok and YouTube, and hopes to inspire people to take better care of nature.

George Coombs

George Coombs, Director of Horticulture at Mt. Cuba Center, leads a team of horticulturists, arborists, and grounds maintenance technicians who cultivate and improve formal and naturalistic gardens and play a pivotal role in the implementation of Mt. Cuba Center’s long-range master plan. George produced award-winning reports on native plant research as the former Manager of Horticultural Research at Mt Cuba Center and introduced four new Coreopsis cultivars. He holds a degree in Plant Science from the University of Delaware with a focus on landscape horticulture.

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.

Susan Dixon

Susan Dixon is the perennial plant buyer and department manager at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, DE. She has attended classes ornamental horticulture at New York Botanical Garden and is currently earning her certificate of merit at Longwood. She has a passion for wildlife and the native plants that support them.

Kathy Elliot

Kathy Elliot works as an Educator at Mt. Cuba Center. She has bachelor’s degrees in Plant Science and English from the University of Delaware and earned a Certificate of Merit in Landscape Design from Longwood Gardens. She worked for fifteen years at a family-owned, plant-focused garden center in south-central Pennsylvania, where she multi-tasked between landscape design and garden center management.

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.

Randall Graham

Randall Graham's passion for art has been apparent since childhood. His love of drawing and creating stories through works of art started at a very young age. He studied at The Carlin Academy of Fine Art. Helping others create is a truly gratifying experience. Randall teaches traditional painting fundamentals at Randall Graham Studio in Malvern, Wayne Art Center and Chester County Art Association.

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.

Patrick Greenwald

Patrick Greenwald is the Horticulturist for the Meadow and Dogwood Path gardens at Mt. Cuba Center. He has an MS in Plant Science from Missouri State University and a passion for native plants of eastern North America. Specializing in matrix gardens, He loves to increase diversity in garden design through naturalistic native plantings. His personal mission is to inspire fellow nature advocates and gardeners one garden at a time.

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.

Eileen Hazard

Eileen Hazard, community outreach coordinator at Mt. Cuba Center, enjoys sharing her passion for ecosystems, plants, and the natural sciences with students of all ages and with local communities. Eileen earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, with a focus on environmental engineering, from Lafayette College and a master’s degree in Water Resources from the University of Vermont. She has supplemented her degrees with plant-focused biology classes at West Chester University and a PA Master Naturalist certification. Prior to joining the Mt. Cuba Center team in 2014, Eileen worked in environmental consulting and education.

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.

Diane Keesee

Diane Keesee has a passion for creating interesting signature cocktails, spirit infusions, shrubs, and bitters, using unique seasonal ingredients. She has been involved in hospitality management and the beverage industry for more than 20 years, including having worked for Greenville Country Club and Vicmead Hunt Club.

Scott Kelley

Scott Kelley is the Head Arborist at Mt. Cuba Center. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist® and qualified tree risk assessor.

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.

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.

Ellen Lake

Ellen Lake, PhD, is the Director of Conservation and Research at Mt. Cuba Center. She taught environmental education and was the Education Director at the Brandywine and Red Clay Valley Associations. Ellen has a master’s degree in Entomology and Ph.D. in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware, where she researched biological control of mile-a-minute weed and how to integrate weed management techniques to restore plant communities. Ellen has extensive experience researching insect-plant interactions, including work for the USDA in the Greater Everglades ecosystem.

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.

Mindy Lighthipe

Mindy Lighthipe received her Certificate in Botanical Illustration from the New York Botanical Garden, where she also developed a Natural Science Illustration Certificate. She is passionate about the natural world and discovering the beauty in every rock, stream, and forest. Mindy received a Silver Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in London in 2009. She currently teaches Scientific Illustration at the University of Florida.

Jeff Lorenz

Jeff Lorenz is the founder of Refugia Design, an ecological landscape design/build and stewardship firm, based out of Bala Cynwyd, PA. Since 2015, Refugia has designed native landscapes for both residential and commercial green spaces throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area and Jersey Shore. Refugia is known for an immersive, naturalistic design aesthetic and meadow expertise at projects ranging in size from city yards to suburban estates. Refugia's ground-breaking initiatives include mapping the impact of their 120+ native habitats via the Ecological Greenway Network, designed to promote connectivity for wildlife and restore ecosystem function to neighborhoods. Refugia added 47 'stepping stone' gardens to the Greenway Network in 2021, developing an ecological corridor for native plants and wildlife that is made more powerful by the network's growing interconnectedness.

William McAvoy

William McAvoy is Delaware’s State Botanist. He extensively studied and published on the flora and habitats of the state. He is the lead author on a comprehensive native plant resource, Flora of Delaware Online Database.

Ashley Melvin

Ashley Melvin joined the Delaware Forest Service as a casual seasonal in 2001 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Plant Science from Delaware State University. She worked as the botanist for the Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) Program for three years before moving into the education position in 2004. A native Delawarean, Ashley developed a deep connection with nature at a young age and understands the importance of fostering that connection in today’s youth. Currently she serves as Delaware’s Project Learning Tree (PLT) Coordinator and manages two education centers at Blackbird and Redden State Forests. A founding member of the Delaware Association for Environmental Education (DAEE) and current Chair, Ashley helps increase the quality and opportunity for outdoor learning on a state, regional and national level. She continues to participate as the botanist in all Delaware Forest Service field studies and is the current Vice Chair of the Delaware Invasive Species Council (DISC). Ashley enjoys sharing her love of nature and the outdoors with her 5-year-old son, Marcus.

Holly Merker

Holly is an avid birder, educator, writer, and lecturer, who has a passion for bird conservation. She is an instructor for National Audubon and the American Birding Association and is the lead data reviewer for eBird in Pennsylvania. Holly believes in the powerful benefits nature holds for our wellbeing and is lead author on a book on the subject, aptly called Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul, guiding readers into deeper connections to the birds around them.

Carrie Murphy

Carrie Murphy is an extension agent and program leader for the Lawn and Garden Program at the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. She is also the Master Gardener coordinator for New Castle County, Delaware. She has an MS in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Delaware and graduated from the Professional Gardener Program at Longwood Gardens.

Rowan Nygard

Rowan Nygard grew up exploring the creeks and forests around the Eno River State Park in Durham, North Carolina. There he found a deep appreciation of nature, and a desire to know more about the natural world around him. This search has serendipitously led him to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania where he is studying horticulture at Longwood Gardens. Along the way he has immersed himself in the study of ecology, with a focus on mycology and the many ways that plants, animals, and fungi interact. He is a passionate citizen scientist and educator, and hopes to demystify the world of fungi so that everyone can see the natural world around them from the perspective of a mushroom.

Serah Pesce

Serah Pesce is the Education Specialist 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. In addition to teaching classes for the Ecological Gardening Certificate, she shares her extensive experience in floral design.

Robert Raguso

Robert Raguso, PhD, is a professor of Chemical Ecology at Cornell University. His research interests run the spectrum of insect-plant interactions mediated by chemistry, especially the role of fragrance in pollination ecology and animal behavior. He has promoted his research by organizing symposia, short courses, and workshops world-wide.

James Rockwell

James Rockwell is the Greenhouse and Nursery Production Manager at Mt. Cuba Center, where he oversees plant production in our conservation research greenhouse. Prior to his tenure here, James earned two bachelor’s degrees from Virginia Tech and was a TRIAD Fellow at Longwood Gardens.

Julie Rotramel

Julie Rotramel is the Plant Recorder at Mt. Cuba Center, where she manages plant information to support the living collections and conservation programs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Denison University and a master’s degree in Museum Studies from The George Washington University.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Shelly Silva

Shelly Silva is the digital marketing assistant at Mt. Cuba Center. She has a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Corcoran College of Art & Design and an MS in Management from Wilmington University. When she isn’t taking pictures or videos for Mt. Cuba’s social platforms, she continues to practice her art with botanical cyanotypes, chalkboard lettering signs, and painting through her brand, Painted Fern Designs. Shelly also holds a Level II Award in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and enjoys learning and teaching others about the world of wine.

Judy Simon

Judy Simon is a botanical artist and freelance illustrator who has combined her love of gardening with her drawing and painting career. She is a member of the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators and the American Society of Botanical Artists. Her work is in many private collections.

Leirion Sorensen

Leirion Sorensen is the Gardens Manager at Mt. Cuba Center, a role that is ideally suited to her passion for preserving the natural environment and creating aweinspiring outdoor space. She has worked in the horticulture industry for over 25 years and obtained her degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Delaware Valley University.

Bob Sprague

Bob Sprague is a charter member and President of the Native Orchid Conference (NOC) and a long-time director and past president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society. Currently he works closely with the North Branch Land Trust (NBLT), Longwood Gardens, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on a project to preserve a unique population of native orchids in Pennsylvania.

Melissa Stanley

Melissa Stanley has been a yoga instructor for children and adults since 2015. Melissa teaches a variety of styles, levels and ages.

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. Ian is currently studying the effects of non-native plants on birds.

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.

Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has conducted research to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. Author of Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens (2007) and co-author of The Living Landscape (2014), his new book, Nature’s Best Hope, is a 2020 New York Times Best Seller. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the 2019 Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award.

William Trescott

William Trescott is the Arboriculture Manager at Mt. Cuba Center where he has worked for 33 years. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist®.

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.

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