University of Maryland Extension

Presenters at the Annual Training Conference

Mr. Alonso Abugattas (Environmental Education Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for the Trail and Classroom)
Alonso Abugattas is currently the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, Virginia. He has over a quarter century of experience in conducting environmental education presentations and is the long-time serving Co-Chair for the local chapter of the National Association for Interpretation (the professional organization for naturalist) as well as being a Certified Heritage Interpreter. He invites you to check out his Capital Naturalist Facebook Group, Blog, YouTube Channel, and to follow him on Twitter.

Mr. Scott Aker (Plants I Love)
Scott Aker is Head of Horticulture and Education at the National Arboretum in Washington. A native of the Black Hills of western South Dakota, Scott started the Integrated Pest Management Program at the arboretum in 1992. He's been managing the National Arboretum's world-renowned plant collections for 14 years and has also managed the Arboretum's educational efforts for three years.

Mr. Steve Allgeier (Plant Tree Roots and Not (Just) Caliper--Looking in the Pot Before you Buy)
Steve Allgeier is a certified arborist with the  International Society of Arboriculture. He also  educates residents about safe, effective research based horticulture practices.

Mr. Eric Buehl (Rain Gardens Gone Wrong)
Eric Buehl is a Regional Watershed Restoration Specialist with the University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program and serves the counties of the mid and upper Eastern Shore including Caroline, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Kent, and Cecil. He is part of the Watershed Protection and Restoration Program team of five Specialists that provide technical assistance and outreach to all levels of government, non-profit organizations, and communities seeking solutions to a variety of water quality issues. Eric’s background is in stormwater management, habitat and water quality restoration project design and implementation, and land surveying. He has been with the University of Maryland since the fall of 2014 and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from Wesley College in Dover, Delaware and an Associate of Arts degree in Business Management from Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Maryland. Before joining the University of Maryland, he was the Land Conservation and Restoration Coordinator with a small environmental non-profit in southeastern Delaware. Prior to that, he was manager of a local soil and water conservation district in Sussex County, Delaware, where he also started as the program manager of their sediment and stormwater management program.

Dr. David Clement (IPM Diagnostic Walk for Landscape Problems)
David Clement, Ph.D. has served as a state-wide extension specialist in plant pathology/IPM/diagnostics for Maryland Extension for the past 25 years.  His primary focus areas are invasive disease species education, the correct diagnosis of ornamental/lawn problems, and management of diseases/cultural issues through IPM (Integrated Pest Management) strategies.  He coordinates, develops, and participates in presentations and applied research targeted to the Landscape/Turf industry and is located at The University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center.

Ms. Loretta Collins (Demystifying Soil Test Reports)
Loretta Collins works for the UMD Extension Agricultural Nutrient Management Program, assisting in the training of nutrient management consultants and assisting farmers across the state in developing nutrient management plans. She has master’s degrees in both education and soil science. Her soils background includes work in agriculture, archaeology and the physical properties of soils.

Mr. Sam Droege (Native Bees In Maryland:  Their Status, Conservation, and Management - From Big Picture to Small Picture)
Sam Droege develops survey techniques and estimates of status for a wide range of plants and animals in North America.

Mr. Stanton Gill (Dealing with Insects on Herbaceous Perennials and Annuals; Fruit Trees and Cane Fruit with the Fewest Problems)
Stanton A. Gill is a tenured faculty of the University of Maryland Extension with a rank of Principal Agent/Full Professor. His faculty position is to work with the greenhouse, nursery, and landscape industry in Maryland in the adoption of IPM practices. He is also a professor in the Landscape Technology Program at Montgomery College where he teaches two 3-credit classes per year. Stanton Gill is CEO and CFO of MacBride and Gill Falcon Ridge Farm, LLC, a 75-acre, three farm operation that specializes in specialty fruit.

Ms. Lisa Gonzalez (Edible Weeds)
Lisa Gonzalez, M.S. is an Extension Educator and Agent focusing on nutrition, wellness and food safety. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies, a M.S. in Integrative Health and a graduate certification in Medical Herbalism. She has been foraging for over 20 years.

Mr. Richard Jones (Native and Non-Native Trees on the UMD Campus)
Richard Jones is an ISA-certified arborist. He manages the care and maintenance of the roughly 15,000 trees and shrubs included in the campus plant inventory. Prior to working at UMD, he worked as the Lead Arborist for Glenstone, a large private art museum and grounds located in Potomac, MD.

Mr. Michael Judd (Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation)
Michael Judd is principal designer of Ecologia, LLC and author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, Michael Judd is a well-known and enjoyed speaker, noted for enthusiastic and clear presentations on a host of subjects surrounding edible and ecological landscapes. Michael has been a presenter for Mother Earth News and NOFA – Northeast Organic Farmers Association, a guest on popular radio such as A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach, and a host of podcasts revolving around edible landscaping, gardening and permaculture.

Mr. Jonathan Kays (Wildlife on Woodland Properties: Identification & Managing the Habitat At Your Center)
Jonathan Kays has been stationed at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center near Hagerstown, Maryland since 1988 as a Natural Resources Extension Specialist. He has responsibility for development and implementation of extension programs in the following areas: woodland stewardship, woodland owner volunteer training, wood energy, wildlife damage management, alternative income opportunities utilizing natural resources, and the use of biosolids to grow forest trees on gravel spoils. For more information on his programs go to

Ms. Cineva Kline (Introduction to Basic First Aid)
Ranger Cineva Kline is the southeastern regional coordinator with the Maryland Park Service Training Division who has managed the statewide EMS training program in the Department of Natural Resources for the last seven years.  She is joined today by Ranger Maria Reusing, the central region Training Division coordinator.  Both Maryland Park Service Rangers maintain current instructor status with the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Emergency Care Safety Institute, and National Safety Council.  

Ms. Donna Koczaja (Grow a Backyard Pharmacy)
Donna Koczaja, M.S., graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) (formerly Tai Sophia Institute) with a Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism and a Post-Master's Certificate in Clinical Herbalism. She currently practices Clinical Herbal Medicine at MUIH. Also a long-time Master Gardener, her primary interest is in inspiring others to improve their health and sense of wellbeing through the joys of gardening and the power of natural medicine.

Mr. Bryce Lane (Eliminating Murder: How Not to Kill Plants; Tremendous Trees: How They Grow and How We Can Help Them)
Bryce Lane grew up in Western Massachusetts, where he discovered his passion for plants and telling others about them, working at a local garden center through high school and college. After earning his BS in Plant Science from the University of Massachusetts in 1979 and an MS in Horticulture from The Ohio State University in 1981, he came to the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University as a Lecturer, and Undergraduate Coordinator. Bryce taught both large and small courses for thousands of majors and non-majors. He has received numerous local, regional, and national teaching awards and is frequently invited to speak workshops and symposia. He hosted and produced a three-time, regional Emmy winning UNC TV public television show called “In the Garden With Bryce Lane” for 11 seasons. Bryce is now retired and spending more time with his family, pursuing the next chapter in his public speaking career, and teaching part time at NC State and the JC Raulston Arboretum. He is an avid gardener who has gardened in the same spot for 33 years!

Ms. Mary Kay Malinoski (IPM Diagnostic Walk for Landscape Problems)
Mary Kay Malinoski received a B.S. in entomology from the University of Delaware and an M.S. in pest management from the University of California Riverside.  She serves as a state wide Maryland Extension Specialist in entomology/IPM dealing with pest problems that occur in ornamentals and turf for the commercial Green Industries, the public, arboreta, military and other state and federal agencies.  She develops program delivery methods through web sites, fact sheets, books, posters, professional meetings, webinars and face to face trainings.  Major emphasis is the management of native and invasive insect through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.  Malinoski has over 30 years of experience in plant pest/problem diagnostics.  She is also involved with regional and national IPM programming.

Ms. Carolyn Puckett (The Alien Invaders Among Us)
Carolyn Puckett has led the Weed Warriors of Carroll County for five years and makes frequent presentations to organizations on the harm non-native invasive plants cause. She is a master gardener, a master naturalist, a Maryland woodland steward, and a member of the Maryland Invasive Plant Council.

Dr. Michael J. Raupp (Zika, West Nile, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis: What Mosquitoes and Ticks have in Store for us and How to Prevent Being Bitten)
Mike Raupp is the Bug Guy. He works with businesses, agencies, institutions, nonprofit organizations, and the general public to demystify insects and to develop sustainable landscape programs.

Ms. Debbie Ricigliano (IPM Diagnostic Walk for Landscape Problems)
Debbie Ricigliano is a certified Professional Horticulturist and lead Horticulture Consultant at the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), University of Maryland Extension.

Ms. Amanda Rockler (Rain Gardens Gone Wrong)
Amanda Rockler is a Watershed Restoration Specialist with the University of Maryland's Sea Grant Extension Program. Amanda holds a graduate degree in sustainable landscape design and worked as a rain garden designer for a private firm before joining UMD.

Mr. Martin Schmidt (Geology of the Maryland Piedmont)
Martin Schmidt is author of the book, Maryland's Geology, published by Schiffer Publishers, which is designed to give a basic geologic background & then apply it to the state, for students, teachers, and laymen.  He has been teaching grades 9-12 at McDonogh School since 1978, including physics, chemistry, and geosciences over the years. 

Ms. Connie Schmotzer (Planting your Rain Garden)
Connie Schmotzer is Consumer Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator for Penn State Extension , York County. She is part of the program development team for the Penn State Master Gardeners Green Gardens/Clean Water program.

Dr. Paula Shrewsbury (Protect and Conserve Pollinators and Natural Enemies in our Landscapes)
Paula Shrewsbury is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Entomology at the University of Maryland in the Department of Entomology. Paula has conducted applied research and extension education programs to implement Integrated Pest Management for pests of ornamental plants and turfgrass for over 20 years. The overall focus of her program is to create sustainable landscapes, nurseries, and turf systems with an emphasis on biological control, conservation of beneficial arthropods, and management of invasive species. 

Ms. Pam Spencer (Maryland Monarchs)
Pam Spencer is a 2014 graduate of the Master Gardener Program in Baltimore County. Her focus has primarily been with the pollinator group. Pam has been active in her community building Monarch Way Stations, teaching, rearing, tagging, and launching Monarchs with both students and the community.

Dr. Sara Tangren (Trouble-Free Native Perennials)
Sara Tangren is a faculty member at the University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center where she teaches native plants and sustainable landscaping for the Master Gardener program. She received her Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Maryland in 2001. Her areas of specialization include plant biogeography, wetland delineation/mitigation, native landscaping, native seed production, the native plant and seed production industry, and rare plant conservation. Her restoration work has included a collaboration with the Anacostia Watershed Society to restore plant communities along the Anacostia River Bank, with the University of Maryland Arboretum & Botanical Garden to protect the rare wildflower sundial lupine, with MNCPPC to establish native meadows, and with PEPCO to restore a native meadow community. She established the first native gardens at the University of Maryland in 2006,and she has designed and implemented native gardens for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Vice President’s Mansion, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Mr. Jon Traunfeld (Help for Home-Grown Tomatoes; Growing Media: What’s in the Bag? What’s Best for Plants?)
Jon Traunfeld is an Extension Specialist with UME and serves as State MG Coordinator and Director for the Home and Garden Information Center. He loves everything about tomato plants and fruits.

Mr. Krisztian Varsa (Rain Gardens Gone Wrong)
As a University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Watershed Restoration Specialist, Krisztian works with local and state government agencies, non-governmental organizations, watershed groups, and communities in Baltimore City and Harford, Carroll, and Baltimore Counties. Krisztian improves water quality through watershed restoration and stormwater remediation techniques by building partnerships, identifying funding sources, and shepherding restoration projects to implementation. Additionally, he implements behavior change programs to reduce nutrient and sediment loads to local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Krisztian works in conjunction with other Sea Grant Educators and the Watershed Assistance Collaborative on statewide research and pilot efforts that provide technical assistance to communities and recipients of Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund and other grant programs.

Dr. Sara Via (Life in the Underground: Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy Planet)
Sara Via was trained as an evolutionary geneticist at Duke and the University of Chicago, two schools with absolutely no ties to agriculture or extension.  Despite this impediment, Sara has spent most of her 40 year career studying evolution in agriculture.  A few years ago, Sara realized it was past time for serious action on climate change, and her current passion is climate education.  In 2014, we recruited her to teach MGs about climate change and plants.  Since then, she’s given many talks to MG chapters, Master Naturalists, garden clubs, nature centers and community groups about how climate change is affecting Maryland’s gardens and native plants, and what gardeners and naturalists can do to become part of the solution. 

Ms. Claudia West (Creating Stunning Plant Communities that Stand the Test of Time)
Claudia West is the ecological sales manager at North Creek Nurseries, a wholesale perennial grower in Landenberg, PA.  Claudia holds a Master’s Degree of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the Technical University of Munich, Germany.  In her current role, Claudia works closely with ecological design and restoration professional, offering consultation services from initial project planning stages to adaptive management strategies after project completion.  Her work is centered on the development of stable, layered planting designs and the desire to bring American native plants back into our landscape by making them widely acceptable.  Claudia is a sought after speaker on topics such as plant community based design and the application of natural color theories to planting design.  Together with co-author Thomas Rainer she published a new approach to ecological planting design in her first book Planting in a Post-Wild World (Timber Press).

Ms. Kerry Wixted (Bird-Friendly Backyards)
Kerry Wixted is an education and outreach specialist with the Wildlife and Heritage Service. She manages several state-wide education programs including Project WILD and Wild Acres.

Dr. Stephanie Yarwood (How Microbes Might Help your Garden Grow)
Stephanie Yarwood, Ph.D. is a microbial ecologist at University of Maryland College Park. Prior to join the Environmental Science and Technology Department in 2011, Dr. Yarwood taught microbiology at Oregon State University. Her research explores how human disturbance effects microbial communities and in turn how those changes may alter soil functioning.

Ms. Lisa Mason Ziegler (From the Ground Up!)
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a cut-flower farmer, author, and nationally recognized speaker on organic cut-flower gardening. Lisa has been farming since 1998; her urban three-acre farm produces thousands of stems of flowers each week in season. She sells her flowers to florist and through her CSA programs. Lisa is the founder of The Gardener’s Workshop, an online shop offering the gardening tools and supplies she uses in her own gardens. In season, Lisa gathers experiences from day-to-day life on her farm. During the winter months she travels speaking and teaching on this good life of gardening.

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